One of your rights under the United States Constitution is the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Inherent in this right is protection from being pulled over without probable cause in a traffic stop.
If you were stopped or searched without probable cause, an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney may be able to get your case dismissed, keeping you from criminal conviction. One common application of this defense strategy is in Oklahoma DUI defense. In order for a police officer to lawfully pull you over on suspicion of DUI, he or she must have probable cause for the traffic stop. In other words, he or she must have observed behavior that lends the officer to believe the driver may be impaired.
Driving late at night or in the pre-dawn morning is not sufficient cause for a driver to be stopped. Neither is driving past an officer who is stopped near a bar or nightclub. Rather, an officer must observe driving behaviors that are either clear traffic violations or known indicators of intoxication. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed a chart that outlines indicators for reasonable suspicion of DUI.
Any driving action that reflects a more than 25% likelihood of intoxicated driving is considered acceptable as probable cause for a traffic stop.
Some of these indicators include:
- Driving without headlights at night (30% probability)
- Driving into oncoming traffic (45% probability)
- Tailgating (45% probability)
- Drifting between lanes (50% probability)
- Driving excessively slowly - at least 10 mph below the posted limit (50% probability)
- Weaving between lanes (60% probability)
- Near-collision with another vehicle or object (60% probability)
Though items with greater than 25% probability of intoxicated driving provide probable cause for a traffic stop, items with a greater than 50% probability of an impaired driver give an officer reasonable suspicion for further DUI testing, including field sobriety tests and portable breath tests.
Many DUI defense attorneys in Oklahoma City recommend that you decline field sobriety tests and roadside breath tests, as these serve to give officers probable cause for your DUI arrest. They are not designed to help you clear your name and be on your way.
If you were pulled over without probable cause, you were subject to an unlawful traffic stop. This violation of your rights may lead to the case against you being dismissed entirely, regardless of the results of your blood test. Any evidence gained from an illegal traffic stop is inadmissible. If you have been arrested for DUI in Oklahoma City, call an Oklahoma DUI defense attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.
It is important that you tell your DUI lawyer everything you can about your traffic stop and subsequent arrest. If an officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion for your stop or arrest, your attorney will likely be able to use the illegal traffic stop as a key element in your defense. For more information about DUI defense in Oklahoma, contact our experienced attorneys at (405) 418-8888.