Reasonable Cause in a Los Angeles DUI Case

Before you can be pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence in Los Angeles, or before you can be questioned about whether you are intoxicated, the officer must have reasonable cause to do so.

There are certain procedures and steps an officer must follow before they can arrest someone for a Los Angeles DUI. These procedures and rules are put in place to ensure that the driver’s 4th Amendment rights are protected. Your 4th Amendment rights are the rights against unlawful search and seizure granted to you by the United States Constitution. This means that authorities are not able to search your private or personal space without reason to do so. There has to be a reason that would justify violating your privacy in such a manner.

Generally, the first obstacle of reasonable cause is a reason to ask that you pull over. An officer has to have a valid, and legal reason to ask that you pull over. This is generally in the form of a traffic violation. It could be running a red light, running a stop sign, weaving, speeding, etc. An officer cannot arbitrarily stop a person.

There are, however, two exceptions to this rule; one is a DUI checkpoint, and the other is a welfare check. A welfare check is if you are pulled over by the side of the road, or are having car trouble. An officer is required to stop and check to see if you are doing ok. This type of a check does not require that an officer have reasonable cause to inquire as to whether you are intoxicated. A DUI checkpoint also does not require an officer to have a reasonable cause to ask if you are intoxicated. If you choose to go through a DUI checkpoint, the officer can question you as you drive through.

Let’s consider an example. Dina has gone to happy hour after work with her friends. She has consumed a few beverages and drives home after wards. As she is driving home, her headlights are not on. By law, your headlights are required to be on if you are driving at night. An officer pulls her over, and asks why her headlights are not on. While he is questioning her, he smells alcohol on Dina’s breath, and she is slurring. The officer then proceeds to question Dina about whether she has been drinking.

In this scenario, the officer has grounds to question Dina because he pulled her over for her headlights. This gave him reasonable cause.

If the officer stops and questions someone without reasonable cause, there may be a chance to get the case dismissed altogether, as any evidence obtained by the officer without following proper procedure has to be tossed out. This is why it is crucial to hire a Los Angeles DUI Attorney to assess and analyze your case and the evidence. A legal professional has over 30 years of experience and knowledge and is immediately able to determine the weaknesses in your case. If you find yourself in this situation, do not hesitate, contact our office as soon as possible!