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What is Probable Cause for DUI Arrest in Minneapolis?

If you were pulled over and arrested under suspicion of driving while impaired (DWI) in Minneapolis, the legal standard known as the probable cause could be important to your defense. Probable cause is the level of evidence a police officer must have to make a DUI Arrest in Minneapolis.

Whether or not the police had probable cause in your case could be relevant to your defense. If you were arrested without probable cause, your criminal case could be dismissed. If the police obtained a warrant for your blood or urine without valid probable cause, the results of those tests could be excluded from the trial.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller could help you understand how probable cause could impact your case. What’s more, our firm could determine if the lack of probable cause could serve as a viable defense in your case. Reach out to a Minneapolis DWI lawyer right away to learn more.

Understanding Probable Cause

Probable cause is the standard a police officer must meet in order to arrest an individual for DWI in Minneapolis. If the evidence available does not meet this standard, law enforcement does not have grounds to make an arrest or request a warrant.

Probable cause is more than just a suspicion of illegal activity. In order for an officer to have probable cause, they must reach that conclusion based on all of the circumstances available to them. A finding of probable cause could be based on the facts of the case, the officer’s prior experience, or other factors the officer is aware of.

Probable cause requirements are related to your constitutional rights. Specifically, this requirement is based on the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution for a DUI arrest in Minneapolis. This amendment guarantees rights related to unreasonable searches or seizures.

Examples of Probable Cause in a DWI Case

The threshold of probable cause is relevant in a DWI case. After all, a traffic stop can only turn into a DWI arrest if the police can articulate a case against you for driving while impaired. Often, the case for probable cause is made through a collection of small pieces of evidence as opposed to a singular factor that suggests impairment. Some of those factors could include:

Admission of Drinking

One of the common signs of impairment that police will point to when making an arrest for DWI is an admission of consuming alcohol immediately before driving. Given the low threshold under the law, a single drink could push some people over the legal limit. Admission of drinking is often one of the first factors the police will cite regarding their reason for making an arrest.

Open Container

As is the case with admissions of drinking, having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle is another factor that points to the probable cause of DWI. There is a strong case that a driver with an open container has been caught in the act of driving while impaired.

Failed Field Sobriety Tests

Arresting officers often request motorists they suspect are impaired to perform field sobriety testing. These tests are types of physical exercises are supposedly designed to serve as indicators of intoxication.

Failed Portable Breathalyzer Test

When the police make an arrest for DWI, they typically take the accused to a police station for a formal breath test. However, the police also have portable breathalyzers they can use on the roadside. The results of these devices are not accurate enough to be admitted as evidence However, these results can be used to form probable cause and make an arrest for DWI.

Reasonable Suspicion vs. Probable Cause in a DWI Case

A legal standard that is closely related to probable cause is reasonable suspicion. While some people use these terms interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference. An officer might have grounds to pull you over and briefly investigate a reasonable suspicion, but they will need something more than that to search your vehicle or arrest you for a crime.

Reasonable suspicion is essentially a step below probable cause. An officer can have reasonable suspicion that a crime occurred if they have a rational belief that the offense has occurred or is currently occurring. This suspicion can be made from their own observations, the information they learn from witnesses, and their experience in law enforcement.

The difference is the level of certainty an officer has. If they have an unconfirmed suspicion that a crime has occurred but have not reached that conclusion for certain, they do not have probable cause. They might, however, have reasonable suspicion.

Over the years, the distinction between these two legal standards has faded following some court decisions. However, the police still require probable cause to make an arrest or seek a search warrant.

Getting From Reasonable Suspicion to Probable Cause in a DWI Case

It is important to remember that while an officer cannot arrest you for DWI with only a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, they can briefly detain you and investigate further. In the context of a DWI case, that means stopping your vehicle and detaining you long enough to investigate if you are impaired.

There are several common ways for the police to look for grounds to make a DWI arrest. The first step in this process usually involves the officer approaching a driver and observing their behavior. Are their eyes bloodshot? Do they smell of alcohol? Is there a visible open container inside the vehicle? These are the first things the police look for.

The second step is to make contact with the driver. At this stage of the investigation, the officer could confront the driver with their suspicions. They could also highlight the observations they have made that points to alcohol use. If the driver admits to consuming alcohol recently, that could be strong evidence in your DUI Arrest in Minneapolis.

Finally, the officer has the option to request the driver to submit to testing. This testing could include field sobriety tests like the walk-and-turn or the one-legged stand. Failing these exercises could serve as evidence of impairment. An officer could also request a portable breath test sample. While the result of this test is not admissible in court, it is often enough to meet the probable cause standard.

Other Defense Strategies in Minneapolis

It is possible that an arrest without probable cause could result in the dismissal of the DWI charges against you. However, these dismissals are fairly uncommon compared to other defense strategies. The attorneys of Gerald Miller can carefully evaluate the facts of your case to determine the appropriate defense approach for you.

Challenges to the Stop

There are ways to have most of the evidence against you thrown out if your police stop was illegal. If the police lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over, the traffic stop is considered illegal. Any evidence collected during an unlawful police stop could be excluded under a legal doctrine known as the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” This could include any of the evidence that would normally result in probable cause to make a DWI arrest.

Challenges to the Test

Another strong defense option for a DUI Arrest in Minneapolis is to challenge the accuracy of the chemical tests in the case. Most prosecutors rely heavily on the results of blood, breath, or urine testing to prove how much alcohol you had in your bloodstream at the time you were driving. However, there are regulations regarding how these samples must be collected, stored, and tested. If the state fails to adhere to these regulations, the sample might not be accurate. This could lead your attorney to have the results of the test excluded from the trial. If the prosecutor has built their case on this evidence, your charges could be dismissed.

Discuss your Defense Strategy with Gerald Miller in Minneapolis

There are many ways to approach a DWI arrest. Determining the appropriate defense strategy is important, as not every approach will work in every case. The right attorney could help you build a winning strategy for your DUI Arrest in Minneapolis that helps you avoid a criminal conviction.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to help you build the strongest defense strategy possible. Contact us right away for a free consultation.

Related Content: Police Procedures Overview for DWI Arrests in Minnesota


About the author

Tyler Dahlen

Tyler weaves legal expertise with unwavering compassion in his criminal defense practice. Each case becomes a personal crusade, uncovering the human story beneath the headlines and crafting meticulous strategies that challenge the system and fight for a second chance. His relentless pursuit of justice in even the most complex DWI cases has earned him a reputation as a champion for the underdog, a voice for the unheard, and a beacon of hope in the face of adversity.

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