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One of the many functions of a law enforcement officer is to investigate when a person may have broken the law. This is the case when they believe that a person committed the offense of drunk driving or driving under the influence. In most cases, a law enforcement officer makes an arrest when they believe that a person has committed a drunk driving offense.
A DUI arrest also allows the investigating officer to perform a chemical test or a blood test. In some cases, a person takes a chemical test at the police station. In other cases, they go to a hospital or see a nurse for a blood test. These things typically occur after law enforcement makes the arrest for drunk driving.
Los Angeles DUI lawyers know that an arrest can only take place in certain circumstances. Law enforcement officers have to have probable cause that a person broke the law. That means that they have to have a reasonable belief that the person committed drunk driving in order to take the person into custody for that reason.
The officer also needs reasonable cause to make a traffic stop. An officer needs more evidence to make an arrest than they need to make a traffic stop. However, in both cases, they need probable cause to believe that the detention is justified under the law.
In some cases, a law enforcement officer starts out by investigating what they think is only a traffic violation. They might see a person fail to stop at a stop sign or exceed the speed limit. They might stop the person to talk about the traffic violation.
When the officer goes to conduct the investigation for the traffic stop, the investigation might turn into an investigation for drunk driving. They might observe that the person has bloodshot eyes. They might slur their words. Then the officer has probable cause to investigate the person for drunk driving. If the investigation shows that the person likely has driven drunk, law enforcement can lawfully make the arrest.
Other times, an investigation can start out as an investigation for drunk driving. A person might weave over the center line as they drive. Law enforcement might arrive on the scene after a vehicle crash. A person might drive erratically. These are all reasons that law enforcement might have probable cause to stop a person for a drunk driving investigation.
An investigation for drunk driving consists of observing the person for watery or bloodshot eyes. The officer might ask the person if they’ve had anything to drink that day, but answering this question is voluntary. The officer may ask the driver to get out of the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests.
When law enforcement asks a person to do field sobriety tests, the person isn’t under arrest, but they are detained for the purposes of the investigation. A driver can decline to do the tests, and it’s lawful to refuse. However, the state attorney can tell the jury about the refusal.
The law enforcement officer can ask the person under investigation to take a preliminary alcohol test. This is called a Preliminary Alcohol Sensor or PAS instrument. You don’t have to take this test unless you’re on probation or under the age of twenty-one.
If law enforcement decides to make an arrest for drunk driving, they’ll place the person in handcuffs and drive them to a law enforcement agency for detention. They can release the vehicle to a sober driver or have it towed. If the vehicle is legally parked, they might allow the driver to leave the vehicle where it is.
At the station, the person arrested has the option to take a blood or breath test. A person that refuses this test can see their license suspended for an entire year even if they’re never convicted of drunk driving. After the test, the person typically goes to jail overnight. They might post bond and appear in front of a judge at a later date, while others appear in front of a judge immediately. If you’re facing drunk driving charges, it’s important to work with a skilled and experienced attorney to evaluate the detention and arrest in your case.