Before a police officer can arrest you for DUI, he or she must have probable cause.

But what does that really mean?

According to People v. Williams, probable cause exists when “the totality of the facts known to the officer at the time of the arrest are sufficient to lead a reasonably cautious person to believe that the arrestee has committed a crime.”

Probable cause can be established when the officer observes that you smelled of alcohol, slurred your speech or had red glassy eyes. However, the officer’s opinion by itself may not be enough. Generally, the officer must corroborate his or her opinion with other observations such as your speeding, weaving, erratic driving, driving on the wrong side of the road or being stuck in a ditch or in the mud.

While you may have an innocent explanation for why you drove off the shoulder of the expressway, the police officer may still act on his or her well-founded conclusions about your impairment. Probable cause is based on all the facts, the court reasoned, and a reasonably prudent person would be aware of a defendant’s incentive to make up an innocent explanation in order to avoid arrest and prosecution.

If you have been charged with a DUI or similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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