Police officers have a duty to keep their jurisdictions safe. Part of this involves trying to keep impaired drivers off the roads. One way they do this is by watching for signs of drunk driving. If they notice that something is amiss with a driver, they’ll conduct a traffic stop.
Some people are surprised to know that police officers can’t just stop you for no reason. Instead, they need to have reasonable suspicion. This means that they see something that would lead a reasonable person to think the driver is drunk.
Examples of reasonable suspicion
There are many things a police officer might see that could lead them to believe someone is driving while they’re impaired. These are all points that can lead the officer to conduct a traffic stop. Some examples include:
- Crossing the center line or swerving between lanes
- Stopping in the middle of the road without reason
- Driving too fast or too slow for current conditions
- Making illegal turns or failing to use a turn signal
- Ignoring traffic signals and signs
If a police officer conducts a traffic stop, they’ll try to determine what’s going on. At this point, they may ask for a field sobriety test or chemical test. They’re trying to determine if there’s probable cause to arrest the driver. Drivers do have the right to refuse those tests, but there are penalties that come with this due to the state’s informed consent laws.
Planning your defense strategy should start as soon as you know you’re facing criminal charges. Violations of your rights and wrongdoing by the police officer who stopped you might be suitable components of that defense. Working with someone who’s familiar with these matters can help you determine what options are viable for your case.