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Drunk driving arrests are not always lawful

Getting pulled over by an officer can be a nerve racking experience. If an officer suspects that you are driving under the influence in Virginia, you may be arrested for a DUI.

An arrest occurs when you have been taken into police custody and are not free to leave. An officer may use physical restraint or he may just tell you that you are under arrest. Police officers may arrest you if they have personally observed a crime. For example, if an officer pulls you over for driving erratically and administers a Breathalyzer test that shows that your alcohol level is over the legal limit, he may legally arrest you for a DUI. An officer is also permitted to arrest you if he has a valid arrest warrant.

When no crime has been witnessed, but the police officer has reasonable belief that you have committed or are about to commit a crime, things can become more unclear. In order for an officer to justify a DUI arrest, he must have had probable cause to arrest you. If the officer sees strong signs of a DUI but you have refused to take a Breathalyzer test, the officer may have enough probable cause to arrest you. The original traffic stop must have also been lawful. That’s why in many cases, stops for routine traffic violations can lead to DUI arrests.

Drunk driving charges can lead to serious consequences if you are found guilty. The DUI arrest is the first stage of the process in a DUI case, and often the most important. Not all DUI arrests are lawful. If a court finds that your constitutional rights are violated, the arrest may be deemed by the court as unlawful. An unlawful arrest can get certain evidence thrown out or charges dismissed altogether.

Source: FindLaw, “DUI Arrest,” accessed on Oct. 13, 2015



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