In order for someone to be charged with driving under the influence, law enforcement officials must first have probable cause to make the traffic stop. If it is discovered that no probable cause existed at the time of the arrest, a DUI may be dismissed. The alleged actions of the head of the Utah Highway Patrol’s DUI Squad could mean several people will head back to court to have their cases reviewed to determine whether their arrests were legal.
According to the Utah Highway Patrol, during the lieutenant’s tenure, several traffic stops lacked the requisite probable cause, or the probable cause that did exist was not strong enough to support the stop. In some cases, evidence or contraband was destroyed. He is also accused of ordering officers under his command to stop recordings at some traffic stops.
Some troopers refused to follow his orders because they knew the arrest would not be legal. In one case, troopers needed a warrant to conduct field sobriety tests on an individual. The warrant was denied, but the lieutenant attempted to order the officer to arrest the man for DUI. The trooper refused. This is just one of many alleged instances in which the lieutenant is accused of wrongdoing.
Despite the fact that his superiors say they have the situation under control, that does not mean that there are not a number of people accused of DUI who should never have been cited or arrested in the first place. The central principle of our criminal justice system is that everyone is guaranteed the presumption of innocence. This is one of many reasons why probable cause is essential. If there is any question that an officer had a legal premise to make a traffic stop in a DUI case, the charges could be subject to dismissal.
Source: deseretnews.com, “Highway Patrol DUI squad boss out after ‘violation of policy’ detailed“, Andrew Adams, Sept. 17, 2015