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What Is Probable Cause for Arrest in a DUI Case in Arizona?

September 23, 2022

Probable cause refers to an officer’s reasonable grounds for search and seizure, entering a home or business, making a traffic stop, handcuffing someone, detaining someone, or arresting someone. Without probable cause, an officer does not have the right to perform these actions. To protect your rights, it’s crucial to understand what is considered probable cause for an officer to arrest you for DUI in Arizona. It’s also essential to obtain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are charged with DUI in Arizona. 

What Evidence Equates to Probable Cause in a Traffic Stop?

Probable cause during a traffic stop in Arizona can include circumstantial or substantive evidence. This means that an officer can see visible proof of a crime before pulling you over, or they can see evidence of a crime after you have already been pulled over. This also means that an officer can obtain evidence from a third party, such as a bartender who refused to continue to serve you, a friend who tried to take your keys away from you, or a witness who observed certain behavior while you were driving. 

Observations by Officer 

Observations made by an officer before or during a traffic stop can contribute to or create probable cause for an arrest for DUI in Arizona. These observations may include:

  • Witnessing failure to obey traffic laws
  • Witnessing speeding or reckless driving
  • Witnessing weaving in and out of traffic

If an officer observes any of these events while you’re driving, they can argue that they had probable cause to stop you and determine if you should be charged with DUI. 

Admissions During Traffic Stop

An officer can also use admissions made during a traffic stop to contribute to or create probable cause for an arrest for DUI in Arizona. This may include: 

  • Admitting to drinking
  • Admitting to consumption of illegal drugs or marijuana
  • Admitting to abuse of prescription medication
  • Admitting to use of prescription medication that prohibits the operation of heavy machinery
  • Admitting to use of prescription or non-prescription sleeping pills

Witness Statements

If an officer obtains witness statements that suggest someone is driving under the influence, they have probable cause to perform a traffic stop. This includes receiving a 911 call from a friend who thinks you shouldn’t be on the road, a witness statement from a bartender or shop owner who sold you alcohol, or witnesses who observe you breaking traffic laws or driving unsafely.

Field Sobriety Tests or Breathalyzer Tests

While you are not legally required to submit to a field sobriety test or breathalyzer during a traffic stop, the failure to comply may result in you being placed under arrest for suspicion of DUI. An officer can arrest or detain you in the interest of public safety if you are being unruly, uncooperative, or displaying signs of being under the influence. This includes an odor of alcohol on your breath, car, or person, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, staggering, inability to stand, or other signs of being under the influence. 

If you do consent to a field sobriety test or portable breath test and fail, an officer can legally compel you to submit to a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, an officer can obtain a warrant for arrest for DUI and/or a warrant for a blood test. This may also put you at risk for a license suspension for one year.

Don’t Fight a DUI Arrest in Arizona Alone

If you have been arrested for DUI in Arizona, you should not fight the charges alone. You are entitled to an attorney who can help you fight for your rights in court. Janet Altschuler is an experienced DUI attorney in Arizona who can help you navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system and improve your chances of avoiding jail time or losing your driver’s license. 
Janet Altschuler has over 20 years’ experience in the Arizona criminal justice system, including time as a prosecutor in Pima County. She is uniquely suited to help her clients fight DUI charges in Arizona. She can help you determine if there was probable cause for the arrest for DUI or the initial traffic stop that led to the arrest. This may lead to dismissal of the charges or mitigating circumstances that reduce the charges or sentencing. Set up a free consultation with our office today, or call us at (520) 247-1789 or (520) 200-5003.

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