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WA DUI FAQs: The Stop & Police Contact
Here is a list of some of the most common questions that people ask us. These questions and answers are designed only to provide general legal information about the criminal process.
These questions and answers are not legal advice addressing a client's specific legal concerns.
What is the standard for stopping someone for a DUI?
A police officer must have probable cause that a traffic violation has occurred or that the occupants of the vehicle are engaged in criminal conduct before that officer can lawfully stop a vehicle.
What is the standard for detaining someone for a DUI investigation?
A police officer may detain someone if he/she can point to specific and articulable facts giving rise to a reasonable suspicion that the person stopped is, or is about to be, engaged in criminal conduct. This temporary seizure must be reasonably related in scope to the justification for its initiation.
What is the standard for arresting someone for DUI?
A police officer must have probable cause to arrest an individual. Probable cause to arrest exists where the totality of the facts and circumstances known to the officers at the time of arrest would warrant a reasonably cautious person to believe a crime has been committed.
Was I arrested for DUI?
You are under arrest if a police officer takes you into "custody." This means that you believe you are not free to walk away from the scene of the contact with the officer. Not every stop by a police officer means you are under arrest. If stopped only for a short time, then you may have been "detained," rather than legally arrested. A good rule of thumb is that if you have been placed into handcuffs or placed in the back of a police car, then you have been arrested for DUI
Why did they tow my car?
Washington law requires that if a driver is arrested for DUI or physical control, law enforcement must impound the vehicle and the vehicle cannot be redeemed for a minimum of twelve hours from the time it arrives at the impound lot. This is true even if the car was safely parked, or in your driveway. There is no exception to this rule.
The officer searched my car after arresting me for DUI, can they do that?
Only in very limited circumstances. The police may only search your vehicle if they have reason to believe that evidence relevant to the crime of arrest may be found in the vehicle.
Will there be a videotape of my DUI stop and arrest?
Possibly. It depends on the agency and the equipment installed in the police car. Some local law enforcement agencies have installed video and audio equipment in many of their police cars. If there is a video of your stop and arrest, you have a right to view this video and your attorney can obtain a copy.