When an officer suspects you of DUI crimes, they have many tools at their disposal. They can run field sobriety tests. They can implement breath analysis tests on the scene. Once arrested, they can even administer blood tests.
But at what point do they have the right to arrest you? You may have heard the term “probable cause to arrest” before. It comes into play in instances like these.
Cornell Law School defines a probable cause to arrest. Police must have probable cause before receiving a warrant, conducting a search or making an arrest. Courts will often rule in favor of the existence of probable cause under specific circumstances. In specific, the arresting officer must have “reasonable basis” to believe you committed a crime.
In some circumstances, an officer can even use probable cause to issue a warrantless arrest. However, if this happens to you, the arresting officer must immediately bring you to a competent authority. This authority then makes a judicial determination of probable cause.
Probable cause behaves as a flexible concept. In general, an officer must have a reason to believe in your guilt at the time they make the arrest. For example, an officer could use a failed field sobriety test as probable cause of intoxication at the time of arrest.
But this leaves a lot to the interpretation of both the arresting officer and the court. If the court renders a probable cause invalid, then the arrest itself is invalid. Any evidence collected also gets suppressed. For this reason, officers exert caution when making arrests under probable cause.
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