The police have to suspect you're driving drunk before they pull you over. They must have reasonable suspicion. This is key because, without it, any evidence obtained during the stop may be illegal.
What this means is that officers can't go out after, say 2:00 in the morning, and pull cars over at random. Yes, they may know that the bars just closed at 2 a.m., and they may believe that means some drivers are drunk, but that's not enough to infringe on someone's rights with a random stop.
So, how can an officer get reasonable suspicion that you were under the influence? It typically has to do with how you drive. Things they look for include:
- Driving very slowly.
- Erratic driving.
- Illegal turns.
- Driving with wheels on both sides of the centerline.
- Drifting back and forth between lanes.
- Changing lanes without a turn signal.
- Almost running off the road or hitting other cars.
- Braking frequently.
- Stopping well before a stoplight.
This is not a complete list, but it gives you an idea of the types of behaviors that officers look for. It's also worth noting that many of the things on that list warrant a traffic stop on their own, whether you're sober or not. When the officer comes to talk to you, he or she may then look for things like slurred speech, bloodshot eyes or the smell of alcohol in the vehicle. These factors could bring about breath tests or field sobriety tests.
Did police pull you over without reasonable suspicion? If so, your rights may have been violated and you need to know your defense options.
Source: FindLaw, "What is Reasonable Suspicion for a DUI Stop?," accessed Jan. 05, 2018