Do Police Need a Warrant to Make a DUI Arrest?

You have the right to be free from unreasonable seizures by law enforcement officials. What this means is that an officer cannot arrest you unless they can justify their actions. In many cases, this justification comes in the form of a warrant. A warrant is a court-issued document giving authorities legal permission to detain an individual suspected of a crime.

Does the warrant requirement apply to a DUI arrest? In short, no. Under Utah Code Ann. § 41-6a-508, officers do not need warrants to arrest individuals they suspect of drinking and driving. However, that doesn't mean they can stop and detain you arbitrarily. The statute goes on to say that an officer can make a DUI arrest only if they have probable cause to do so. Thus, their actions must be reasonable and justifiable.

But what does probable cause mean?

The Requirements for Making a DUI Stop

Before looking at the meaning of probable cause in terms of a DUI arrest, let's first explore the process from the beginning: the DUI stop.

Just as with an arrest, an officer needs some reason to pull you over. The standard they must follow is referred to as reasonable suspicion. That means the officer needs to have some facts they can point to supporting their actions.

The types of driving behaviors that may give rise to a lawful traffic stop are varied. They may include actions that violate laws or that appear suspicious to the officer.

Examples of activities that may justify a stop include:

  • Running a red light
  • Speeding
  • Having broken vehicle equipment
  • Weaving in a lane
  • Stopping for no reason
  • Driving at night without headlights on

The officer must be able to articulate why they pulled you over for the stop to be considered lawful. After they have stopped you, they may then begin an investigation into a possible DUI.

Probable Cause for a DUI Arrest

Similar to making a traffic stop, an officer needs a reason to make a DUI arrest. In determining if the officer had probable cause, the court will ask whether or not, in the same circumstances, a reasonable person would have believed you were intoxicated.

If you get pulled over, the officer will be observing your behavior to determine whether or not it suggests that you are drunk driving. Again, several activities may give the officer probable cause to arrest you.

A few reasons an officer may say they detained you include:

  • Your speech was slurred
  • Your vehicle, clothing, or breath smelled of alcohol
  • Your coordination was off when you were completing field sobriety tests

Although an officer does not need a warrant to make a DUI arrest, they do need to justify their actions. If they cannot, your detention may be unlawful, and any evidence obtained may be inadmissible in court.

If you've been charged with a DUI in Salt Lake City, contact Lokken & Putnam, P.C. at (801) 829-9783 today. We'll thoroughly investigate your case to ensure your rights are protected.