Vermont DUI: Understanding Probable Cause

Probable cause in Vermont is a legal concept. Probable cause is required for DUI arrests.

To be arrested for DUI, or any crime in Vermont, probable cause that an individual committed that offense must exist.  To establish probable cause, police officers must be able to point to objective circumstances leading them to believe that a suspect committed a crime.  Probable cause requires more than a mere suspicion (or hunch) that a suspect committed a crime, but not as much evidence as would be required to prove the suspect guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In Vermont, the question of whether probable cause exists is a practical, nontechnical one that is evaluated in a common sense manner based on the totality of the circumstances. In other words, the test for probable cause is an all-things-considered approach that calls for consideration of any and all facts that a reasonable person would consider relevant to a police officer’s belief that contraband or evidence of a crime is present. Zullo v. State, 2019 VT 1 (Vt., 2019).

Vermont law enforcement obtain probable cause for DUI by observing all of your actions leading up to the arrest. They can build probable cause for DUI based on erratic driving, admission to drinking, odor of intoxicants, and preliminary breath test over .08 BAC. They can build probable cause for DUI based on a tail light out, admission to drinking, mumbled speech and failing to turn correctly on the walk and turn test. Any number of combinations of evidence gathered during your interaction with the police can be used against you to create probable cause for your arrest.

If you are arrested for DUI in Vermont please contact us for a free, confidential case consultation.

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