Police officers need to have a reason to pull over a vehicle. They can’t initiate a traffic stop just because they feel like bothering someone. In the case of a drunk driving stop, the officer will usually only need to have reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop.
The standard for reasonable suspicion is much lower than the one for probable cause. Because both of these may play a role in a drunk driving stop, you should understand the difference between the two.
Reasonable suspicion means that the officer saw something that made them believe that you were breaking the law. In the case of drunk driving, it’s often the way a person is driving that meets this standard. They may see a driver who is:
- Making illegal turns
- Braking without a reason
- Straddling the center line
- Almost hitting objects on the side of the road
- Driving too fast or slow
Once the officer initiates the stop, they will try to determine whether the driver is impaired or not. This is typically done through a chemical test or a field sobriety test. When they have enough evidence to meet the standard of probable cause, which means that it points to the likelihood that the person did commit the crime, they can arrest the person for drunk driving.
Anyone who is arrested for drunk driving needs to get to work on their defense strategy quickly. This may include components, such as questioning the validity of the traffic stop. Working closely with your attorney can help you to learn about the options you have for this.