Legal Blog

What Gives Police Probable Cause in a DUI Case?

10 January 2018 | OWI,  

Attorney Sean Hessler

Written by
Sean Hessler

10 January 2018


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When you are pulled over, it’s often because the police officer stopping you had reasonable suspicion that you disobeyed the law. Whatever reason they give, an officer usually uses reasonable suspicion to pull you over if they suspect you committed a more serious offense, such as driving while under the influence (DUI). Once they have you stopped, they can use probable cause to arrest you for DUI. There are a number of ways police can determine they had probable cause in a DUI case.

If you’re facing DUI charges in Indiana, call a DUI lawyer from Hessler Law at (317) 886-8800 for a free, confidential case consultation.

How Police Use Probable Cause in DUI Arrests

A DUI arrest starts with reasonable suspicion. An officer can use both major or minor traffic violations to initially pull you over. After you have been stopped, police will observe you to decide if they have probable cause. While every situation is different, they may use the following factors to arrive at probable cause:

  • Your breath. They can smell alcohol on your breath or inside your car.
  • Your appearance. If your eyes are bloodshot or your speech is slurred, they may think you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Your mannerisms. You seem to be having trouble understanding what is being said, or you can’t retrieve your license or registration papers without fumbling or dropping them.
  • Your car. The officer will likely glance inside your car to see if you have an open beer bottle in your cup holder, or if there are liquor bottles sliding around the floor of your car.
  • Your tests. Officers often use field sobriety tests (FSTs) to determine probable cause. They ask you to get out of your vehicle and may request that you walk a straight line, or put your head back, extend your arms, and try to touch your nose with your pointer finger. You have the right to refuse FSTs in the state of Indiana. Many people either don’t realize they have this right, or they think they can pass. If you agree to take an FST but you cannot pass it, the officer may be able to use your results to arrest you.

The Breathalyzer and Implied Consent

Another test you may be asked to take is a portable breathalyzer test. You have the right to refuse these portable breathalyzer tests, but there may be consequences. If an officer strongly believes you are under the influence and you refuse the portable breathalyzer, they may ask you to come to the police station and take a certified breathalyzer or chemical test. Under the state’s implied consent law, if you are operating a motor vehicle on public roadways, you implicitly consent to these certified tests. You do have the right to refuse them, but if you do, the court will likely suspend your license. They can also use your refusal as evidence against you during court proceedings.

Talk to an Indianapolis DUI Attorney

If you have been charged with a DUI, you may want to contact a knowledgeable DUI attorney to help you with your case. While you may not know the ins and outs of the law, an attorney like Sean Hessler does. He can review your case to determine if your rights were violated, and to determine whether or not the officer truly had probable cause.

To speak with Indiana criminal defense lawyer Sean Hessler about your case, contact Hessler Law at (317) 886-8800.