The U.S. Constitution accords several rights to the citizens. One of these is the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement. Basically, this means that the police must have a justifiable reason to investigate you for a crime. Most often, this justification comes in the form of a warrant.
However, law enforcement does not need a warrant to stop and investigate you for drunk driving. Instead, they need probable cause to stop you for investigation and a possible DUI arrest. Without a probable cause, you would challenge the DUI charges and possibly convince the judge to dismiss your case. But what exactly is probable cause?
Requirements for a DUI stop
Just as with any other arrest, the police must have reason to pull you over. And the applicable standard for this is known as reasonable suspicion. This means that law enforcement must point to certain facts to justify their action.
A number of driving behaviors can give rise to a lawful stop. These behaviors may include actions that violate basic traffic laws. Examples of driving behaviors that can justify a stop for DUI investigation include:
- Weaving in and out of your lane
- Hugging the center line
- Running the red light
- Erratic speeding and braking
For the stop to be lawful, the police must be able to clearly explain why they pulled you over.
Probable cause for a DUI arrest
Similar to the stop, the police need a reason to arrest and charge you for drunk driving. During the stop, the police will observe your behavior to determine if you could be intoxicated. Investigations the police may conduct during the stop include the field sobriety test as well as the breathalyzer test. A slurred speech as well as evidence of alcohol in the vehicle can also lead to a DUI arrest.
Under Tennessee laws, drunk driving is a serious criminal offense with severe consequences. Knowing your legal options can help you defend yourself and protect your rights when facing DUI charges.