Many Michigan OWI / DUI cases are thrown out of court because the initial stop was not warranted.
Often-times OWI / DUI arrests start out as traffic stops or minor accidents. A traffic violation, no matter how minor, will justify the police pulling over a motorist. In fact, when police stop a motorist for a traffic violation, they are often making an investigatory stop, which does not require probable cause. Investigatory stops must still be for a proper purpose. Michigan courts have held stops improper when they have been based on speculation, a mistaken understanding of the law by the officer, or if an officer operated their vehicle in a manner that would cause the driver to violate a traffic law.
Before police can arrest someone for OWI / DUI, they must have probable cause. Probable cause exists if an officer is aware of facts which would cause a reasonable person to conclude that the driver has committed an offense. Typically, police will say that their observations after a traffic stop led them to suspect that the driver was intoxicated.
A typical claim is that the motorist had bloodshot or glassy eyes, slurred or mumbled speech, a strong alcohol odor, slovenly or unkempt appearance, swayed or staggered, admitted drinking, or fumbled with his wallet when a driver’s license was presented. Attempts to make this happen may include asking the driver to do multiple things at once, such as producing a license and insurance while getting out of the car.
Police officers need reasonable suspicion in order to begin a traffic stop. Some common violations used to make a traffic stop include:
- Driving at an excess speed or reckless driving
- Driving with an expired registration sticker / tag
- Failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign
- Failure to use turn signals
- Not turning on headlights when needed
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Texting or talking on the phone while driving (depending on the state’s laws)
Swerving can be an indication of drunk or drugged driving and can alert officers to the possibility of drinking and driving being to blame for the erratic behavior. While swerving can indicate an intoxicated driver, it can also indicate the individual is texting while driving or otherwise driving distracted. This is why swerving without any additional evidence of intoxication is not enough of a reason to pull a driver over for a stop.
Can the police pull you over without reasonable suspicion? No, it is not legal for a police officer to pull over a driver without reasonable suspicion.
When building a defense for how to fight a OWI or DUI charge when there was no reasonable suspicion to get pulled over and stopped in the first place, there are a number of issues that can be challenged to help win the case in court. Additionally, after reviewing a driver’s arrest details online, it is often times found that the arresting officer did not have proper reason or legal cause for why they stopped or pulled over a driver.
The simple fact of being stopped or pulled over for any of the above-mentioned common traffic infractions, does not automatically give probable cause for a OWI or DUI charge. After a driver is first pulled over – a person does not have to answer the police officer’s possible incriminating questions, which they are more than likely to ask.
Probable cause for an OWI or DUI stop is one of the most important factors with any OWI / DUI related arrest. In every case the evidence needed for conviction, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion to pull someone over to begin with.
Learn how to challenge a OWI or DUI and win by showing that there was not enough reason for an initial traffic stop in the first place. An arrest review will help find defenses to get a OWI / DUI dismissed for charges that originated in a parked car, speeding, and the odor of alcohol, etc.
If You’ve Been Charged with an OWI / DUI, Talk to an Experienced OWI / DUI Lawyer Right Away
An experienced OWI / DUI lawyer can help protect your rights and fight for the best resolution for you. Having a former prosecutor who has prosecuted these cases from the other side can be used to your benefit. At Sharp & Associates Law Firm, with an experienced defense attorney and former prosecutor in your corner, we know what works, what doesn’t, and how to build a successful defense strategy.
Get help right now. Call 269-978-6560, so we can begin building your defense today.