An officer must have probable cause (PC) to stop your vehicle, detain you for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) investigation and arrest you for DWI.
1. To Stop Your Vehicle:
During a traffic stop (checkpoints excluded) the officer who stops your vehicle must have probable cause. This means that the officer can only stop your vehicle if there is a legitimate reason to (i.e. speeding, failure to maintain a single lane, no lights, or any other traffic violation). The officer cannot just stop you when you are driving to see if you are doing anything unlawful, they must have a logical belief, supported by facts and circumstances, that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed.
2. To Detain You for a DWI Investigation:
Once the officer has stopped you, they must have probable cause to further their investigation about if you are DWI. This means the officer must possess facts to believe that you were impaired while you were operating a motor vehicle (i.e. smell of an alcoholic beverage, bloodshot and glassy eyes, slurred speech, etc.).
3. To Arrest You for DWI:
After the officer has stopped you and detained and investigated you for DWI, they must have probable cause to arrest you for DWI. This means the officer must possess facts to believe that you were impaired while you were operating a motor vehicle (i.e., admissions to consuming alcohol/drugs, SFST results, portable breath test, etc.). It is not enough for the officer to just have a hunch that you were driving while intoxicated.
If these probable cause standards are not met, it may be possible for your DWI charge to be reduced to a non-alcohol related driving offense, dismissed, or certain indicators of intoxication be suppressed from evidence. Knowing your rights in these situations is very important, an experienced DWI attorney like myself can make sure you are treated fairly throughout the entire process and get you the best result possible.