Probable Cause Defense Strategy in a California DUI Case
What probable cause has to do related to DUI's usually is, did the police have probable cause to pull the person over.
Because if the police are just willy-nilly pulling people over because they think they must somehow be involved with some illegal activity, even though they don't have any proof they did anything wrong to pull them over, this would be a good defense in a DUI case.
The way it would work would be to say, why did you pull that person over? Well, they looked suspicious.
That's not going to be good enough. They're going to have to pull them over for some traffic violation. Still, later on, when we get the dashcam from their police cruiser, it shows there wasn't a traffic violation, and they're just pulling people over randomly for no reason.
Police Must Have a Valid Reason To Pull You Over
In that scenario, where you get lucky enough to catch them in a lie like that, in addition to them getting in big trouble for that, you would also argue that because of the illegal pullover, anything that flowed from that pullover cannot be used against my client.
An example would be any statement my client made. My client's breath if you took a break sample after that illegal pullover. They made my client do the field sobriety tests after the illegal pullover couldn't be used.
Now you get yourself in the position where you've got a pretty darn strong argument that they don't have any more evidence left to use against you because it's all been suppressed by the judge as to the fruit of the poisonous stop.
So, that initial stop is where this whole probable cause defense comes in. They must have probable cause that some criminal activity is afoot to stop you, or they have to have some traffic violation.
If they don't have that, they get into a real problem and can win the case based on that.
What is Probable Cause for a DUI Arrest?
Also, they have to have probable cause to give you more than just a traffic ticket. In other words, let's say they pull you over because you're swerving or pulling you over. After all, you're speeding. Alright, give you a ticket and let you go.
To go beyond that, they're going to need probable cause that you're drinking alcohol and driving or using drugs and driving. And the way they can get that evidence is if they smell your breath and your breath smells like alcohol or if they sense your car and it smells like marijuana, then yes, they can get you.
They can order you out of the car. They can start to perform field sobriety tests on you, and they can try to get you for a DUI. But, they need those specific things.
They can't just pull you over for a traffic stop and then try to parlay every single traffic stop into a DUI, which is precisely what they do.
Because they'll ask you, have you had anything to drink? If you say yeah, I've had something to drink. That's it; it's on. They got you.
If you're slurring your speech and you can't talk, your swerving all over the road in a dangerous manner; that might be enough to give them probable cause to stop you, get you out of the car and make sure that you're safe to be on the highways.
California's Implied Consent Law
Part of being a California driver is you give up certain rights. Driving from the DMV's perspective, from the legislature's perspective, is a privilege and not a right, and part of that privilege is what's called the implied consent law, where you agree that if the police think you might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of both, you've got to cooperate with them.
You've got to give them a blood sample. You've got to provide them with a breath sample.
Those are your responsibilities as a driver in California, and if you don't do that, you're going to get a refusal, and if you get a refusal, you'll lose your driver's license for a year.
So, you have to make sure that you handle your end of it the right way and the police have to make sure they take their end of it the right way. Otherwise, they will have a probable cause violation and lose the entire case.