Written by attorney Maj Vasigh

What is the definition of Probable Cause in Florida DUI Stops?

It “must be based upon more than a belief that a driver has consumed alcohol; it must arise from facts and circumstances that show a probability that a driver is impaired by alcohol or has an unlawful amount of alcohol in his system." State v. Kliphouse, 771 So. 2d 16, 22 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000).Once an officer has probable cause, it “provide[s] the means for measuring degrees of impairment or blood alcohol concentration through breath or blood testing." Id. The odor of alcohol alone is not enough for probable cause. Id. at 24. “While the odor of alcohol on a driver's breath is considered a critical factor, other components central to developing probable cause may include the defendant's reckless or dangerous operation of a vehicle, slurred speech, lack of balance or dexterity, flushed face, bloodshot eyes, admissions, and poor performance on field sobriety exercises." State v. Kliphouse, 771 So. 2d 16, 23 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000).

In Dep't of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles v. Pitts, the court explained that

probable cause sufficient to justify an arrest exists “where the facts and circumstances, as analyzed from the officer's knowledge, special training and practical experience, and of which he has reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient in themselves for a reasonable man to reach the conclusion that an offense has been committed."

815 So. 2d 738, 744 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002) (quoting Dep't of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. Favino, 667 So.2d 305, 309 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995).

An officer may have probable cause if his observations plus the observations of another officer, combined, establish probable cause. This is known as the fellow officer rule. Sawyer v. State, 905 So. 2d 232, 234 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005).

If you have any questions about your DUI in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, or Sarasota County, please call (813) 800-1111 to speak with an attorney right now!


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