Everyone dreads seeing the flashing lights of law enforcement turn on behind their vehicle. The time it takes to pull to the side of the road and listen to the officer or wait while they write you a ticket might make you late for an important meeting, result in an expensive fine or increase the cost of your insurance.

While getting pulled over is a pretty minor inconvenience for most, it can be a major hassle—even a legal battle, for others.

What is probable cause?

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure. Yet, law enforcement officers have a right to pull someone over if they have probable cause.

Before law enforcement can pull you over, search your vehicle, or place you under arrest, they must have probable cause to do so, which means there must be:

  • A reasonable belief of criminal actions
  • Evidence of a crime (openly present)

The issue with probable cause is that it is imprecise and dependent on the individual situation. Thus, there is room for error.

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges and arrest procedure

When a person drives under the influence of alcohol that exceeds the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol content (BAC), they are subject to arrest and criminal charges. For a first-time offender in New York, the penalties may include:

  • A $500 – $1,000 fine
  • Up to one year in jail
  • A driver’s license revocation for six months or more

The penalties for subsequent charges may increase in severity. On the other hand, an arrest without probable cause may be invalid.

If the court determines that there was no probable cause, it can void the arrest and drop the charges against you. Understanding your legal options may help ensure you are utilizing the best defense strategy for your situation.