A police officer cannot arrest anyone without first establishing “probable cause.” In the case of a suspected drunk driver, probable cause can include slurred words, erratic driving or a confused mental state.
But what is the definition of probable cause?
Oregon law defines probable cause as “a substantial objective basis for believing that more likely than not an offense has been committed and a person to be arrested has committed it.” The phrasing “more likely than not” is legally fraught. It’s a particular evidentiary standard that is highly subjective.
However, that basis of “probable cause” becomes even more interesting when you understand the guidelines that Oregon police must adhere to when interacting with individuals:
- Conversation: This requires no legal justification whatsoever. “A conversation” does not impede the rights of a person and begins with the consent of the individual once a police officer asks a question.
- Stop: This requires that an officer have reasonable suspicion of a person. “A stop” is a short impediment to an individual’s freedom.
- Arrest: This requires probable cause, as defined above. “An arrest” is taking a person into custody for the commission of a crime.
Police undergo rigorous training on presenting their interactions with people as “justified” and “reasonable” in a court of law. In any arrest, not simply for a DUI, there is a very slippery slope leading a person from a conversation to an arrest.
By the time a police officer is at the window, that officer is already suspicious. The slippery slope is just that much steeper.
Officer bias and “reasonable suspicions.”
All of this information on reasonable suspicion and probable cause shows you one important fact: the system is tilted in favor of the police. You may wish to speak with an attorney skilled who demands justice for every client to even the scales.