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Police need probable cause to investigate DUIs

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Georgia has stringent DUI penalties. According to the Department of Driver Services, first offenders receive a one-year suspension of their driver’s license. Additionally, you can expect several fines and possible jail time.

A DUI conviction might affect you for the rest of your life. It is best to fight the charges before you accept a guilty plea. One possible way to get a reduced penalty or dropped charge is if the DUI stop was illegal.

Did you commit a traffic violation?

Police must have probable cause to pull you over. Traffic violations provide reasonable suspicion for a police officer to investigate a possible DUI; however, if they cannot prove you violated some traffic law, the arresting officer needs to cite another reason.

Did you drive poorly?

If you did not break a traffic law but showed signs of intoxicated driving, the police might try to use this as probable cause. However, poor driving is not as easy to prove as outright traffic violations. For example, driving slowly in a residential area or swerving slightly is much more insufficient evidence than driving through a stop sign or illegally changing lanes.

Was evidence gathered illegally?

Your first defense in a DUI case usually starts with proving the police officer did not have probable cause. Any evidence they gather after the unlawful stop falls under the exclusionary rule. This means the court will throw out any evidence obtained after the illegal stop.

Not everyone who gets pulled over on suspicion of a DUI can prove the stop was illegal. However, police officers do make mistakes. Do not assume that even a breath test over the legal limit means facing a guilty conviction.