Michael Munoz: There is reasonable suspicion first, then there is probable cause. The officer has to have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop first and he has to have a reasonable suspicion that you’ve either created a traffic violation or that you are doing something suspicious. And he has to have reasonable articulable circumstances, meaning he has to have specific details of what he thinks you did to make that stop and that would be the reasonable suspicion. For example, if an officer thinks you ran a red light, didn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign, didn’t use your blinker, those are all examples of possible reasonable suspicion that you committed a traffic violation. That would get him to stop the vehicle. To make the arrest, he has to have probable cause that you committed a crime or a DUI itself.

A Police Officer Decides At the Scene of an Offense Whether He has Probable Cause or Not

An officer, what they try to do is they try to, in the legal standard it is called totality of the circumstances, that’s what the courts use. They look at all the facts that the officer knows and they decide whether or not all the facts in totality amount to probable cause. And so what they’ll look at is ‘Okay, how is the person’s driving behavior?’ Did they see any bloodshot watery eyes? Any indications of possible impairment. How did he do on field sobriety tests? Did he admit to drinking alcohol? Did he take a breathalyzer? They’re going to look at how they acted, their mannerisms, so the courts are going to take the evidence that the officer says and they are going to look at it from a totality of circumstances perspective and then decide whether or not probable cause existed. An officer decides at the scene of the offense, whether or not he has probable cause, but if that is tested later by a qualified DUI defense lawyer, it will be up to the judge to decide based on totality whether or not it was a valid probable cause arrest.

Alcohol Can Essentially Intensify the Effects of Prescription Medication

Interviewer: The combination of alcohol and prescription medications has become more common where people will have these adverse effects that occur, have you seen that?

Michael Munoz: Yes, alcohol can essentially intensify the effects of prescription drugs and that can be very dangerous so that is something that you are correct about. I think another misconception is people think that if they have a medical marijuana card, then they can drive a vehicle while they are impaired or high on marijuana and that’s just not the case. In Arizona, medical marijuana cards, most courts are not even allowing them to be used as a defense, so a lot of people think that those are, for lack of a better term, a get out of jail free card and that’s just not the case. People who actively smoke marijuana should not be driving a vehicle. Now if they smoked 3 – 4 days earlier, there is a new case that says that if it’s only metabolites, they should probably have a good defense to a DUI. But if they are actively smoking marijuana, they should not be driving within that same time period.

It is Essential to Contact a DUI Attorney As Soon as You’ve Been Charged

Interviewer: Is there anything, if someone’s been charged already, is there anything that they can do to help their own case?

Michael Munoz: Call an attorney, call an attorney that is experienced in DUI and understands all of this. There are lots of things that an attorney is going to investigate, and do to try and protect their rights, try and get them the best possible resolution. Like I was saying, there are lots of moving parts. Did the officer have reasonable suspicion, did he have probable cause, did he have a warrant or the right to take the blood and there are many more issues in that. Did he give you the right to speak to an attorney unless you asked for one. There are so many different ways that an attorney can fight and defend someone’s case, and I think that’s the best thing someone can do is call a qualified attorney immediately.

By Michael Munoz

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