It’s never pleasant to be stopped by the police for a traffic violation, but things can quickly heat up if the officer actually believes you’re driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs (DUID). Since a police officer is often prone to confirmation bias, everything you do can be interpreted through the assumption that you’re impaired, and that makes it easy to end up under arrest.
But, what if the traffic stop wasn’t lawful in the first place?
The police do not simply have the authority to stop any passing driver simply because they want to – that would be a violation of your rights. In order to initiate a DUI stop and subject you to an investigation or chemical testing, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you might be impaired.
Prior to the actual traffic stop, reasonable suspicion can include things like:
- ● Swerving back and forth over the centerline
- ● Drifting in and out of your lane
- ● Hitting or nearly hitting the curb, mailboxes or signs
- ● Stopping in the middle of the street
- ● Falling asleep at a stop sign or light
- ● Any erratic driving behavior, including driving far too slowly
Once the traffic stop has begun, the officer will look for enough evidence to get probable cause for an arrest. That’s a somewhat stiffer standard, so it includes things like failing a roadside sobriety test, blowing more than .08% blood alcohol content on a Breathalyzer device or admitting you were drinking.
What would be considered an illegal or improper traffic stop?
It’s possible to challenge the entire basis for the stop if it seems like law enforcement acted without reasonable suspicion and was merely “fishing” for potential drunk drivers. Here are some situations that often result in improper stops:
- ● You or your car “didn’t fit into the neighborhood” and you were stopped for that
- ● The officer was parked outside a bar or restaurant and pulled you over even though you made no serious traffic errors
- ● You were driving late at night and were stopped simply because the officer was suspicious, not because of any traffic error
- ● Your traffic “error” wasn’t really enough to support reasonable suspicions of impairment, like going five miles below the posted limit
Don’t let an illegal traffic stop and the violation of your rights turn into a DUI conviction. You can fight back with the right legal assistance.