Probable Cause

The Constitution of the United States guarantees you certain fundamental rights and liberties. Among those rights is the right to be free from government intrusion into your person or property without justification. Police officers and members of law enforcement, therefore, cannot search you without probable cause. You also cannot be arrested without probable cause.

Probable cause becomes an issue in many DUI cases, as people may be pulled over and subject to field sobriety tests or other sobriety tests without proper justification. When this occurs, evidence collected can be kept out of court- or suppressed- since illegally collected evidence is not admissible. An experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney can help you to determine if there may have been a probable cause issue in your DUI and, if so, can help you to take the steps necessary to prove it and keep the evidence against you out.

Probable Cause In Fort Lauderdale DUI

The Fourth Amendment provides broad protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and being pulled over and/or subject to sobriety tests is a form of search and seizure that you are protected from. This means that police officers cannot just pull you over for no reason. Law enforcement can pull you over if you are violating some traffic law, such as speeding or driving with a broken taillight. They can also pull you over if you are weaving, driving irregularly, or otherwise exhibiting behavior that gives them a reason to suspect that you are driving while intoxicated. If you are simply driving along and obeying the law, however, they cannot pull you over.

The exception to this general rule is that you may be randomly pulled over at a DUI checkpoint. Although this is technically a seizure under the law, the United States Supreme Court has determined that checkpoints are constitutional because the need to stop drunk drivers outweighs the small infringement upon your constitutional rights. Even in the case of sobriety checkpoints, however, police must follow a specific procedure to determine who is pulled over and they cannot be arbitrary or capricious in checking cars or the evidence may be suppressed.

Once you have been pulled over, police again need probable cause to subject you to a sobriety test. This means if you are pulled over for a broken tail light, police can't just ask you to submit to a breath test or to get out of the car and stand on one foot and touch your nose. There must be some reason for police to suspect you are drunk or high for it to be legal for them to do these things. If you are slurring your words or if the car smells like alcohol, for example, then police may have probable cause to administer testing to assess your blood alcohol content.

In the state of Florida, you are assumed to have given implied consent to a BAC test as soon as you are behind the wheel. This means that refusal to submit to a test can be used against you in court and can result in an automatic suspension of your driver's license.

When evidence or tests are improperly administered, however, you can and should fight to keep those tests out of court and to protect your constitutional rights. An experienced Boward County DUI attorney can help.

If you have been charged with DUI in South Florida, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011! You can also contact us online. It only takes a minute to call, but it can make all the difference in the world.