When an officer pulls over a driver on suspicion of DUI, they are looking for signs of probable cause to make their arrest and justifying the stop. In the case of driving under the influence, they are looking for signs of an intoxicated driver. Besides a breathalyzer test or a failed blood alcohol content test, law enforcement will look for signs of probable cause in making arrest decisions.
Reasons for pulling over a driver
Officers will need a reason for pulling over a driver if they expect to convict the driver. These can include:
- The driver violated a traffic law, such as an illegal turn or speeding.
- The driver was involved in or caused a motor vehicle crash.
- The driver drove erratically even if they did not break the law.
Once pulled over
Law enforcement looks for the following in a field sobriety test as probable cause for arrest:
- Bloodshot eyes: Alcohol consumption or drug use often causes red or watery eyes.
- Slurred speech: It is a common belief that intoxication often leads to slurred speech, which is supported by studies on the topic.
- Smell of alcohol: The scent of alcohol lingers on the breath (and even clothing).
Probable cause is not a conviction
The officer may jump to conclusions when using probable cause. However, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with experience handling DUIs here in New Jersey can defend the accused’s rights. There are many potential and legal explanations for the above list that may have nothing to do with drinking alcohol.