Probable Cause To Search Your Vehicle

An officer may find evidence that can be used against you in your DUI case. This evidence may include bottles of alcohol. Usually, an officer needs probable cause to search your car. However, an officer does not need probable cause to search your car if she or he can see evidence of a crime in her or his plain view. For example, if you have cans of beer in your passenger seat, the officer can point to specific facts known to her or him that strongly suggest a crime has been or is being committed. In this case, that would be driving while under the influence of alcohol. An officer may point to other factors to justify having probable cause. They include:
  • Slurred speech
  • Red eyes
  • Smelling of alcohol
  • Poor driving
  • Defenses To Reasonable Suspicion
Reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch. An officer has reasonable suspicion when she or he makes an objectively reasonable conclusion based on all the facts taken together. Reasonable suspicion must occur before the stop. In other words, an officer cannot profile you, pull you over, find something in your car, and then use whatever she or he found as a justification for her or his reasonable suspicion. When an officer stops your car without having reasonable suspicion, any evidence taken from that stop must be thrown out and deemed inadmissible in court. Regarding defenses, your speech may be slurred because you are fatigued or you have an impediment. Your eyes might be red from a medication you’ve taken because you’re tired, you have allergies, or because you’ve been crying. You might be driving poorly because you are a newly licensed driver or you don’t know your way around the area just yet.

Defenses to Probable Cause

Just because you smell like alcohol does not mean that you are drunk. You have been drinking early, but your blood alcohol content level could still be in its legal limits. An officer must give you a chemical test or conduct a field sobriety test, which must show that you are, indeed, drunk, before being justified in a car search. If she or he searched your car, found alcohol, and then administered tests, it is most likely that whatever evidence she or he seized will be inadmissible in court. To speak with our DUI lawyer Salt Lake City UT residents rely on, please call Rasmussen & Miner.