Daniel Hynes

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Did the police have probable cause to arrest you for DWI?

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Probable Cause & What It Means For Your DWI Case

What is it that separates third world police states from the United States of America? The answer can be summed up in two words: probable cause. Plainly stated, this is what prevents law enforcement officials from investigating or detaining American citizens without a solid reason. Police officers are required to possess “reasonable suspicion” that an illegal act has or is occurring before a suspect can be questioned. For example, if an officer observed an individual from a different ethnic background operating a motor vehicle, the motorist cannot be pulled over for the color of their skin. The officer must witness the individual committing an illegal act, like driving without a license plate or speeding. In short, New Hampshire motorists cannot be pulled over by police unless the officers have a rational explanation.

In a similar fashion, let’s say that a witness called a local police station stating that they had observed an automobile being driven erratically. On the basis of this tip, law enforcement officials decide to go searching for a vehicle that matches the description they were provided. The police officer cannot pull over that vehicle simply because they were able to locate it. They must observe the motorist driving the vehicle actually committing a criminal offense.

How Do I Know If I Was Legally Pulled Over?

The process of actually determining what qualifies as valid probable cause can become quite complicated, but police officers most frequently cite simple traffic offenses as their reason for probable cause. Broken tail or headlights, speeding, erratic driving, failure to use turn signals, expired license plates, loud exhaust, a collision, or failure to obey basic traffic laws are all common reasons why a motorist might be pulled over.

After approaching the vehicle they have pulled over, the police officer will request that the motorist undergo a field sobriety test (FST) or to submit to chemical testing of some sort. In order to be able to request that a motorist perform these tests, the officer must possess reasonable belief that the motorist was operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Police officers are trained to search for signs of impairment, like the smell of alcohol, open containers of alcohol in the vehicle, or strange behavior from the motorist. Only once have these signs been observed can a police officer begin to conduct a DWI investigation. If the police officer believes that the suspect failed their field sobriety test or chemical test, then he or she will be charged with a DWI.

What Happens If I Was Pulled Over Without Probable Cause?

If you were pulled over for a DWI in the state of New Hampshire without probable cause, then it is possible to have all charges against you dismissed. Each of our NH DWI attorneys deals with similar issues on a daily basis. General practitioner lawyers are often competent, but a New Hampshire DWI is a serious matter, and it necessitates the expertise and knowledge of an attorney who specializes in NH DWI law. For a free consultation of your case, contact our law firm today.

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Guest Monday, 27 May 2024