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Do the police need probable cause for a Chicago driving under the influence case?

Driving under the influence remains a major offense in the state of Illinois. Drivers who are pulled over in the city of Chicago quickly discover just how serious law enforcement takes DUI offenses. The laws written to address driving under the influence seek to protect both the public and the person driving intoxicated. Serious accidents may occur when someone takes to the wheel while impaired. The statistics surrounding driving under the influence in Illinois are shocking. Statistics from 2013 how 991 fatalities occurred in Illinois due to drunk driving-related accidents.

The police in Chicago will pull over and charge someone who is obviously driving while intoxicated. Of course, a drunk driver must be afforded fairness under the law and receives full due process rights. Violations of laws related to illegal search and seizures won’t be tolerated. Therefore, police officers may not stop a vehicle without probable cause.

The Legal Definition and Circumstances of Probable Cause

The police cannot randomly choose drivers and subject them to a field sobriety test for no reason. Probable cause must exist in order to stop a car and perform an arrest. Probable cause derives from the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and notes the police must have “adequate reason” to perform an arrest.

Establishing probable cause in regards to a DUI arrest in Chicago can be rather cut and dry in certain circumstances. Probable cause associated with a DUI arrest can take many forms. If the car’s performance on the road is erratic, a police officer may pull the vehicle over to issue a citation. Failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign would be an infraction. From this point, probable cause regarding driving under the influence may be established.

For example, the driver might smell of alcohol, there may be empty beer cans in the car, the driver takes and fails a field sobriety test, or the driver admits to driving while intoxicated. With probable cause that a crime has been committed, a police officer may conduct an arrest.

This does not mean, however, the officer’s determination of probable cause may be always deemed ironclad. In fact, an attorney could prove a police officer failed to establish probable cause for an arrest.

Challenging Probable Cause in Court

When defending a DUI or any other criminal case, an attorney examines all the circumstances surrounding the arrest. This includes examining the arresting officer’s claim to probable cause. If no probable cause truly existed, then the arrest may be deemed improper and all evidence becomes inadmissible. Rendering evidence inadmissible could lead to charges being dismissed.

Probable cause may be challenged in a host of ways. Pulling over a driver who has not violated any traffic laws because he/she is wearing a baseball cap bearing the logo of a name-brand beer doubtfully would survive a hearing. The officer’s hunch doesn’t really seem to rise to probable cause. Of course, the courts make determinations over the validity of any probable cause claims.

The specific event in which a defendant and his/her attorney brings forth challenges is referred to as a probable cause hearing. During the probable cause hearing, issues surrounding the Fourth Amendment and the police officer conduct might be discussed. The case might not move to trial depending on the outcome of the hearing.

A skilled attorney might prove exceptionally helpful during the hearing if it turns out the police did something improper. Those facing DUI charges in Illinois do need to retain counsel qualified to handle their case. Illinois law can be strict with DUI offenses.

Charges for DUI in Illinois

DUI’s may be charged criminally in Illinois. A first and second conviction of a DUI yields a Class A misdemeanor record. Certain specific circumstance could raise a first and second offense to a felony. Third and fourth convictions yield an aggravated DUI, which is a Class 2 felony. A fifth conviction raises the charges of a Class 1 felony. Imprisonment, fines, and a loss of driving privileges may be levied when convicted.

Obviously, no penalties will be levied against someone who is found not guilty. Nor would a penalty be an issue if the case was thrown out of court for “no probable cause.” As such, anyone charged with a DUI might find it beneficial to consult with an attorney experienced with different facets of a proper defense.