Contrary to what some people believe, police officers can’t stop you without having a valid reason. Instead, they need to see something that leads them to believe that there’s something amiss. In the case of initiating a drunk driving stop, there are often signs that the driver isn’t in the proper condition to operate a vehicle.
There are several things that the officer might see that could make them think this. As long as their observations meet the criteria for reasonable suspicion, they can make the traffic stop.
What are some examples of reasonable suspicion?
Reasonable suspicion is a standard that means that the officer has to see something that would make a reasonable person think that the driver is impaired. Some examples of this include:
- Swerving from one lane to another
- Nearly hitting objects on the side of the road
- Driving without headlights when they’re needed
- Stopping without a valid reason to do so
- Failing to use turn signals
- Erratic or slow driving
Once the officer initiates the traffic stop, they have to try to determine what’s going on. In order to arrest the person, they must have probable cause. This means that there is evidence that the person was driving while impaired. This can come in the form of a standardized field sobriety test or a chemical test.
Anyone who’s facing a drunk driving charge should ensure they understand the defense options that are open for their case. Some of these, such as pretrial diversions, might have limited time availability. If you have someone on your side who knows about the system, you can likely find out your options and how they will impact your future so you can make an informed decision.