Does Probable Cause Apply to Pennsylvania DUI Stops?

dui stop pennsylvania pa

In the Keystone State and elsewhere in the United States, probable cause is the key issue in the arrest process, even in DUI stops. The police need probable cause to make an arrest. But what is probable cause and when do police have it during a DUI stop in Pennsylvania? To learn more, read this blog and speak with a seasoned Pittsburgh first DUI lawyer from our legal team today.

What constitutes probable cause in Pennsylvania?

For law enforcement to establish probable cause, they are required to show objective circumstances that lead them to suspect an individual of committing a crime. Intuition is not a valid reason to search a person or their vehicle. That said, judges, not law enforcement, have the final say on whether or not probable cause exists. In spite of a police officer’s sincerity, the judge may examine that same information and disagree, thus deciding that probable cause does or did not exist.

Please keep in mind that probable cause may have existed at the time of an arrest even if the defendant didn’t actually violate the law. You see, an arrest is valid so long as officers predicate it on probable cause, even if the arrested person is innocent.

How much information do police need for probable cause in Pennsylvania?

Probable cause is an abstract concept, meaning that a firm definition will forever remain elusive. Courts have to determine case by case whether or not the police had probable cause for an arrest. In general, though, probable cause requires more than mere suspicion that a suspect committed a crime, but not as much information as one would need to prove the suspect guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

What are some examples of probable cause?

Some potential examples of probable cause can include a motorist making an illegal turn, running a stop sign, exceeding the speed limit or driving extremely slowly/erratically, straddling the centerline, or frequent braking.

Once the officer conducts his or her initial investigation, if they believe the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may administer a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test. That said, it’s worth noting that if you’ve been found guilty of driving while intoxicated via breathalyzer results, but the officer had no probable cause to stop you in the first place, there is a chance that the results may be deemed inadmissible in court.

If you have any further questions or would like assistance planning your defense, please reach out to a skilled Allegheny County DUI lawyer.

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If you are facing a DUI charge, contact The Law Offices of George Heym to schedule your free initial consultation.

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