In order for an officer to make a DWI arrest after a traffic stop, the officer must have evidence that amounts to probable cause. Although many stops do lead to a DWI 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. We explore what constitutes probable cause below.
DUI Reasonable Suspicion
In some instances, valid traffic stops have been deemed excessively intrusive and Minnesota DWI courts have found such facts to be equivalent to arrests. Minnesota 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
Anoka DWI Attorney
Under Minnesota DWI 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 Minnesota DWI court determines that an individual was “in custody” or if an officer actually places an individual under arrest, then probable cause must exist. Minnesota DWI 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 could be arrested/cited for committing an offense.
Without probable cause, a DWI arrest is unconstitutional. In some instances, Minnesota drunk driving cases have been dismissed as a result of an overly intrusive stop or arrest. Police need to have more evidence against you to place you under arrest for DWI than just a simple driving infraction, so if you are charged without much evidence, know that you may have a strong case.
At the end of the day, it will be an uphill battle trying to argue against a police officer that probable cause did not exist, but cases have certainly been won challenging this aspect of the stop. For best results, you’ll want an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side who really understands probable cause, reasonable suspicion and your individual rights. To connect with a lawyer who understands all of these aspects, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today.