There are many factors that play a role in a drunk driving case. One of these is the reason for the traffic stop. In order to legally stop a vehicle, police officers need to have at least reasonable suspicion that a crime is occurring.
The standard of reasonable suspicion is much lower than the standard of probable cause that’s needed for arrest. Being able to pull someone over for reasonable suspicion enables the officer to investigate the situation and determine if further action is necessary.
What’s reasonable suspicion for a drunk driving traffic stop?
Law enforcement officials are trained to watch for certain signs of an impaired driver. Some of the more common include:
- Driving on the centerline
- Swerving into another lane
- Turning without a signal
- Stopping without cause
- Hitting or nearly hitting objects on the side of the road
- Failing to comply with traffic signs and signals
- Neglecting to turn headlights on when required
- Speeding or driving well under the speed limit
Drivers who are impaired will typically exhibit at least one of these very specific behaviors. If the police officer sees any of those, a traffic stop will occur so they can try to determine what’s going on. If a breath test indicates a blood alcohol concentration above .08% or if the driver fails a field sobriety test, an arrest is likely.
Anyone who’s facing an impaired driving charge should ensure they understand their rights and their options for a defense. Working with someone who’s familiar with these matters might be beneficial so you can discuss possible solutions with them. Then, you can set up your strategy to address the charges.