When a police officer is driving around on patrol, they are allowed to make traffic stops and they sometimes make drunk driving arrests. DUI cases make up a significant portion of stops, along with lesser infractions, like relatively minor speeding violations.
These stops can’t be random. For example, a police officer can’t just decide to stop any car that they see after midnight because they know that drunk driving is more common at this time. They also can’t just pull over any driver who is leaving a bar or a restaurant, even though they know it’s more likely that an individual patron may have consumed alcohol. They need to have a particular kind of reason before they can initiate a traffic stop. Specifically, they must have reasonable suspicion that an individual is driving while impaired or that they have broken some other traffic law.
Many reasons justify stops
The above information is important if you feel like you have been illegally stopped. Even if you were under the influence when you were stopped, if the stop was illegal, a prosecutor may not be able to win their case because the evidence that they’ll need to rely on when moving forward would have been illegally obtained.
However, it is not usually hard for the police to find a reason to justify a traffic stop. It could be something simple, such as:
- Driving slightly over the speed limit
- Having dark tint on your windows
- Rolling through a stop sign
- Failing to use your blinker when you change lanes
- Driving under the speed limit
- Tailgating the car ahead of you
- Driving with a broken headlight or a broken taillight
- Having an obstruction on your window, such as a sticker or something hanging from your mirror
In other words, you could be driving very safely and making almost no traffic mistakes, but by simply forgetting to signal on a relatively empty road as you change lanes, you could behave in a way that justifies a traffic stop. The police could then talk to you, decide they believe you are impaired and make a DUI arrest. Oftentimes, if police officers are interested in seeking a reason to pull someone over, they can find one.
If this reality leads to a situation wherein you’re facing serious drunk driving charges, you’ll need to know about your legal defense options. Even if the case against you is strong, working with a legal professional can help you present a solid legal defense that could ultimately prove to be successful.