If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated, one of the ways to fight your case is to challenge the basis for your stop and arrest.  In order to stop a driver, a law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver has violated the law.  In other words, in order to stop you, there must be some basis for the stop such as speeding, failing to signal, or some other alleged violation of law. 

Once the officer stops the driver for a traffic-related offense, the law allows the officer to

investigate relative to that offense.  Typically, for an offense such as speeding, the officer will stop the driver and ask for a driver’s license, proof of insurance, and things similar to that nature.  During that time, the officer will be examining the situation looking for other evidence, such as evidence of drinking, drug use, et cetera. 

            If the officer, as a result of the initial traffic stop, develops or encounters evidence that shows or tends to show that the driver was drinking or is intoxicated, that can lead to an expanded investigation beyond that required for the initial traffic stop.  So, what starts out as a traffic stop for speeding can expand into an investigation for driving while intoxicated, including asking the driver to perform standardized field sobriety tests.  If the officer develops more evidence, enough to amount to probable cause, the officer can arrest the driver for then driving while intoxicated.  To develop “probable cause”, the officer will be looking at a number of things, including the driver’s demeanor, appearance, actions, answers to questions, and cues from field sobriety tests.  All of those can factor into the officer developing probable cause to make an arrest for driving while intoxicated. 

            So, how does a DWI lawyer use this to help a client defend their DWI case?  To begin with, the lawyer can attack the initial basis for the traffic stop.  If it can be shown that the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion that the driver committed the initial traffic offense, then the case can be thrown out.  Likewise, the DWI defense lawyer will also attack the police officer’s assertion that there was probable cause to arrest the driver for driving while intoxicated.  For example, if the defense attorney demonstrates that the officer did not have probable cause to make an arrest,then the case will be thrown out as well. 

            It is extremely important that if you are charged with driving while intoxicated, that you seek the help of a competent and qualified DWI defense attorney immediately.  Before you hire an attorney, get our FREE Missouri DWI Survival Guide. To help answer any questions you may have, contact attorney Grant Shostak today. He represents drivers accused of DWI in St. Charles, St. Louis County, and St. Louis City, as well as surrounding areas.

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