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When can police officers stop a suspected drunk driver?

On Behalf of | Nov 20, 2020 | Criminal Law |

Police officers have a duty to keep the roads safe for everyone on them. One of the tasks they have to do to make this happen is stopping drivers they think are impaired. For this reason, it’s possible for police officers to stop a vehicle based on a reasonable suspicion that the driver is too intoxicated to drive.

Because police only need reasonable suspicion, officers have a variety of reasons they can cite to pull the vehicle over. This includes factors like a broken taillight or other obvious violations of the motor vehicle code. On top of those, they may also conduct a traffic stop based on things such as:

  • Making an illegal turn
  • Stopping without reason
  • Drifting between lanes
  • Straddling the center line
  • Driving erratically or very slowly
  • Failing to use a turn signal
  • Driving without headlights from dusk to dawn

While that isn’t a comprehensive list, it gives you an idea of what an officer may see that alerts them to the possibility that a driver isn’t in the shape they should be to drive. This is typically done while the officer is patrolling an area.

Once the officer stops the vehicle, they will try to ascertain the impairment level of the driver. This is done by using chemical tests or field sobriety tests. If the officer gathers evidence that meets the probable cause standard, they will conduct an arrest.

Anyone who’s arrested for drunk driving should consult an attorney quickly to learn their rights and options. Some aspects of the defense are time sensitive, so it’s best to not waste any time on this matter.