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What makes the police pull someone over on suspicion of drunk driving?

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2020 | DUI

Police officers who are patrolling the streets watch for signs that a driver is impaired so they can initiate a traffic stop to determine what’s going on. They can’t stop a vehicle for no reason at all. Instead, they need to have reasonable suspicion that the driver has committed or is committing a crime. 

What gives an officer enough reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle?

There are many signs that the officers look for when they’re out on patrol. If they spot any of these (as well as a few other, less common, signs of impairment), they can initiate the traffic stop:

  • A vehicle that’s drifting between two lanes or straddling the centerline
  • A car that’s driving very slowly when taking current conditions into consideration
  • A driver who isn’t using turn signals or who’s making illegal turns
  • A vehicle that’s braking for no discernable reason
  • A car that’s nearly hitting things on the side of the road
  • A driver who’s failing to obey the proper traffic signals and signs

It’s also possible that an officer will stop a vehicle if there’s anything else that’s breaking the law. Something as seemingly minor as a burned-out light or missing tag on your license plate can lead to a traffic stop that results in a drunk driving arrest. 

If an officer determines that there’s probable cause to establish a drunk driving case, they’ll conduct an arrest. At that point, the driver’s concern should shift to ensuring that they’re working on their defense strategy. Seeking the assistance of an attorney who’s familiar with these cases can help the defendant considerably, but this should be done swiftly because some aspects of the defense are time-sensitive. 


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