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Probable Cause to Arrest

In order for an officer to make a DUI arrest after a traffic stop, the officer must have evidence that amounts to probable cause. Although many stops do lead to a DUI arrest, a stop is distinguishable from an arrest in that the amount of evidence necessary to support an arrest is higher than the reasonable suspicion needed to stop a motor vehicle.

In some instances, valid traffic stops have been deemed excessively intrusive and California DUI courts have found such facts to be equivalent to arrests. California courts have allowed officers to detain an individual long enough to run a license, vehicle registration, and a warrant check within the scope of a valid traffic stop. Several factors are relevant in determining whether a police encounter is a stop or an arrest:

  • The length of time of the stop
  • The location of the stop
  • The conditions of the prolonged detention

California DUI Attorneys

Under California DUI law, a person may be considered to be held in custody if a “reasonable person” under the same circumstances would not feel free to leave. If a California DUI court determines that an individual was “in custody” or if an officer actually places an individual under arrest, then probable cause must exist. California DUI law defines probable cause as the degree of suspicion sufficient to justify the invasion of privacy that is inherent in a seizure. It must be substantial suspicion, but less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

The elements of probable cause to arrest are:

  • Probable cause to believe that an offense was committed
  • Probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested committed the offense
  • Without probable cause, a DUI arrest is unconstitutional. In some instances, California drunk driving cases have been dismissed as a result of an overly intrusive stop or arrest. Our  experienced lawyers can examine the facts of your case and determine if the arresting officer had probable cause to arrest you.
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