The flashing lights of a police vehicle in your rearview mirror can change the course of your evening. One minute you may be driving home, and the next an officer could be pulling you over for suspected drunk driving, and this could eventually lead to your arrest. You understand the need to be cooperative and respectful of law enforcement, but there are limits to when and why police can stop a driver. There must be a valid reason to pull a driver over.
In order to initiate a suspected drunk driving traffic stop, law enforcement must have probable cause to do so. This means that they cannot simply stop you without having a valid reason to do so. If you face charges for a DUI in Kentucky, you may want to evaluate whether the initial traffic stop was valid and based on legitimate reasons.
The concept of reasonable suspicion
In order to pull a driver over for suspected drunk driving, police must first observe certain behaviors. Reasonable suspicion means that law enforcement has observed behaviors that give them reasonable suspicion that a criminal act is taking place. Some of the behaviors that may give police a reason to initiate a suspected DUI traffic stop include:
- Drifting from lane to lane
- Making an illegal turn
- Straddling the center line
- Hitting stationary objects with a vehicle
- Driving erratically or extremely slowly
- Speeding up and slowing down
- Stopping for no reason
- Frequently braking
If a driver is exhibiting these behaviors, it would give an officer a legitimate reason to pull the driver over. After initiating the traffic stop, the officer will approach the vehicle, speak with the driver and determine if there is a reason to conduct sobriety tests. These reasons may include the driver slurring his or her speech, the smell of alcohol coming from inside the vehicle or noticing open containers.
Your defense against drunk driving
A drunk driving charge can change the course of your life. If you are facing these types of criminal allegations, you will benefit from seeking insight regarding your legal options. An assessment of your case may determine that you have grounds to challenge the prosecution’s case, starting with the initial traffic stop. If there was no reasonable suspicion to pull you over, it could compromise the entire case against you.