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Exceptions to the Probable Cause Requirement in a Los Angeles DUI Case

When a person is arrested on suspicion of DUI, they will be tried before a Court of justice. The Prosecutor must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that all elements of a DUI are met. A person cannot be convicted of a DUI if each element is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

For a DUI, the Court must determine that the driver was in fact operating a vehicle, and the person was intoxicated under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Officers must have reasonable cause to pull a person over. Probable cause is often a violation of the California Vehicle Code.

For example, a driver is driving down the street and fails to stop at a stop sign. An officer pulls him over. The officer has probable cause in this situation because the driver ran a stop sign. Once the driver violated a section of the California Vehicle code, the officer has reason to stop him at any time.

Let’s consider another example. Dan is driving down the street and stops at a red light. Once the light is green, he proceeds within the lane at the legal speed limit and is pulled over by an officer. When he asks the officer as to why he was stopped and pulled over, the officer asks to see his registration. Once the officer notes that the registration is current, he walks around the car before he comes back to Dan and says that Dan’s light looks like it might be out. He has Dan check his lights, and learns that one of the lights are in fact out. The officer then questions Dan about a drinking.

In the second example, the probable cause is questionable. Dan was following all laws and had current registration. The officer was also not sure if the light was out, but had Dan check, and then determined after the fact that the light would be the reason Dan was pulled over. There will be a valid argument that can be made in Court.

There is however, one exception that the officer has to have probable cause to pull a person over and question them regarding a DUI. If there are checkpoints, officers may randomly stop people and check for intoxicated persons. They do not have to have a reason for probable cause, they can pull drivers over and randomly screen them for intoxication.

If you have been arrested on an alleged DUI charge and were stopped at a DUI checkpoint, it is in your best interest to speak to a Los Angeles DUI Specialist. There is little room to argue the requisite element of probable cause. However, that does not mean you will be found guilty and convicted of a DUI. There are other elements that may be weakened by a strong defense. With the help and guidance of an experienced attorney you will be able to assess your case for other areas that will be prone to weakness and may render your case dismissed or reduced.