Being stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) by a police officer can be a startling experience under any circumstances. It’s wise to understand, however, that law enforcement officers have an obligation to follow the law and respect a defendant’s rights at every step of an investigation — including the very start.
Probable cause and drunk driving investigations
Police officers are not free to pull over any driver they want, whenever they want. They must have a specific reason that permits them to make a traffic stop, like when you run a red light when a driver is caught weaving along the road.
Even then, a traffic stop doesn’t necessarily justify the officer’s further inquiries or the use of a Breathalyzer test. For that, the officer usually needs additional evidence that you may have been drinking. Some things that can give an officer justification to investigate further include:
- An odor of alcohol on your breath or clothing
- Any obvious attempts you make to foil the Breathalyzer exam (like chewing mints)
- Your inability to perform properly in roadside sobriety tests
- Your admission that you had “one or two” drinks
- Glassy eyes, slurred speech and obvious confusion
Knowing your rights and asserting them
The prudent thing to do when you’re stopped by the police for a traffic violation is to focus on the issue at hand — not what you may have been doing before you got behind the wheel. The less you information you give the officer, the less potential evidence they can collect to build their case.
In 2018, an estimated more than 1 million people in the United States were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). But not everyone who is arrested or pulled over for suspected DUI is guilty. If you’re facing a DUI charge, don’t let it destroy your life. An experienced defense attorney can protect your rights and make sure that you get fair treatment under the law.