Probable Cause to Suspect Driving While Impaired

					                       Probable Cause to Suspect Driving While Impaired

Standard

Probable cause requires only the probability of criminal activity, not a prima facie showing.
Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 235, 76 L. Ed. 2d 527, 546 (1983).

In order to justify an officer in making an arrest without a warrant, it is not essential that the
offense be shown to have been actually committed; only that the officer has reasonable grounds
to believe such offense has been committed. State v. Jeffries, 17 N.C. App. 195, 198, 193 S.E.2d
388, 391 (1972), cert. denied, 282 N.C. 673, 194 S.E.2d 153 (1973).

Probable cause does not demand any showing that such a belief be correct or more likely true
than false. A practical non-technical probability is all that is required. State v. Zuniga, 312 N.C.
251, 262, 322 S.E.2d 140, 146 (1984).

The degree of certainty necessary for probable cause is “a fair probability,” an amount of proof
greater than “reasonable suspicion” but less than “a preponderance of the evidence,” “clear and
convincing evidence,” or “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” State v. Crawford, 125 N.C. App.
279 (1997).

Odor Alone

The odor of Alcohol about the breath of a driver, without more, is insufficient to establish
probable cause the driver is impaired. Atkins v. Moye, 277 N.C. 179 (1970).

Odor Plus

The odor of alcohol combined with bad driving or other conduct indicating impairment is prima
facie evidence of a violation of G.S. 20-138.1. Atkins v. Moye, 277 N.C. 179
(1970)(unpublished)

       A strong odor of alcohol, glassy eyes, difficulty walking and standing, difficulty
       retrieving driver’s license from wallet, and admission of drinking was sufficient to
       establish probable cause. State v. Tabor, 2004 WL 1964885, 166 N.C. App. 282 (2004).

       A strong odor of alcohol, red and glassy eyes, disorderly appearance, and information
       another officer told defendant not to drive was sufficient to establish probable cause.
       State v. Thomas, 127 N.C. App. 431 (1977).

       A strong odor of alcohol, red and glassy eyes, staggering, and difficulty touching finger
       to nose was sufficient to establish probable cause. Rawls v. Peters, 45 N.C. App. 461
       (1980).

       Finding defendant alone in the driver’s seat of a car parked on the side of the road whose
       hood was warm while defendant had keys in his pocket and was in a semi-conscious state
with drool, unfastened pants, and slurred speech was sufficient evidence to establish
probable cause. State v. Crawford, 125 N.C. App. 279 (1997).

Evidence defendant was driving on left side of the street and exhibited red and glassy
eyes and a red flushed face was sufficient to establish probable cause. Poag v. Powell, 39
N.C. App. 363, (1979).

Evidence defendant had crossed the center line, exhibited a strong odor of alcohol and
glassy and watery eyes, and had admitted drinking was sufficient to establish probable
cause. State v. Tappe, 139 N.C. 33 (2000).

Driver’s involvement in single-car accident on a clear day, his strong odor of alcohol, and
his statement he fell asleep while driving was sufficient to establish probable cause.
Richardson v. Hiatt, 95 N.C. App. 196 (1989).

				
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