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3 things to know about suspected drunk driving stops

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | DWI

Suspected drunk driving traffic stops are often intense exchanges. Anyone who is pulled over in this way should be prepared, as making this effort may help them to feel less nervous about the process and to better protect their interests along the way.

The primary objective of a suspected drunk driving stop is for an officer to assess a particular driver’s condition. It’s important to remember that this process is meant to follow specific legal procedures, which should (ideally) provide reassurance about the fairness of the process.

An officer must have reasonable suspicion to initiate a lawful stop

The officer who stops you can’t just do so for no reason. Instead, they need to have reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired. This can include signs like swerving, nearly hitting roadside objects, not using headlights or stopping suddenly. Reasonable suspicion means that the officer sees something that a reasonable person would agree points to impaired driving.

Probable cause is necessary for an arrest

In order to arrest someone, the officer must have probable cause. This is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion. It means that the officer has definitive evidence that the driver was impaired. There are several ways this can be proven, so it’s up to the officer to get the evidence necessary for the case.

Methods of determining impairment vary

Initially, a determination of impairment may be made through standardized field sobriety tests, interviews and preliminary alcohol screening devices. The officer may also ask the driver for a chemical test, which can be obtained through a stationary breath test machine or a blood or urine test. Being able to include the blood alcohol concentration of the person is often critical in a case.

Anyone who’s arrested for drunk driving should ensure they understand their defense options. These may include taking advantage of pre-trial programs or working out a plea deal. It’s critical that they understand how each of these options can impact their future. Working with a legal representative may help them to construct the strongest possible defense strategy, even if the stop that ended in their arrest was conducted by the book.