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When Do Police Have the Authority to Pull You Over for Alleged Drunk Driving?

 Posted on October 19, 2022 in DUI

Sonoma Drunk Driving LawyerIn the United States, we have important rights when it comes to our privacy. The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. However, there are exceptions to this rule. One exception is when the police have reason to believe that a crime has been committed. It is crucial for everyone to know when police officers have the authority to conduct a traffic stop and assess a driver for signs of intoxication.

If a DUI traffic stop is conducted without justification, evidence obtained during the traffic stop may be unusable in court. This means that if an alleged drunk driver can prove that the officer who pulled him or her over had no grounds for doing so, any evidence of intoxication gathered during the stop may not be used against the driver. This could lead to the charges being dismissed entirely.

Reasonable Suspicion is Required for a Traffic Stop

To understand when police have the authority to pull someone over on suspicion of drunk driving, it is important to know what "reasonable suspicion" is. To initiate a traffic stop, police must have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is taking place. Actual violations of the law, such as speeding or running a red light, are justifications for conducting a traffic stop. Unsafe driving or driving that makes the officer suspect criminal activity may also justify a traffic stop. For example, if an officer witnesses a driver erratically moving from lane to lane, the officer may assume that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Police must be able to specify the reason that he or she suspected someone of breaking the law. Officers are not permitted to pull someone over for no reason. Sobriety checkpoints are one exception to the reasonable belief requirement.

Probable Cause is Needed for a DUI Arrest

Reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause, which is required for an arrest. Open containers of alcohol in the vehicle, the presence of drugs or drug paraphernalia, or the smell of alcohol on a driver's breath may cause a police officer to suspect someone of driving under the influence. At this point, a preliminary breath test or "breathalyzer" may be used to provide probable cause for the DUI arrest. Field sobriety tests may also be used to satisfy the probable cause requirement.

Motion to Suppress Evidence Due to an Unlawful Traffic Stop or Arrest

If you have been charged with drunk driving, it is important to find out if the traffic stop and your arrest were conducted lawfully. If not, you may be able to get the charges against you dismissed by filing a motion to suppress evidence. A motion to suppress is a legal challenge to evidence that has been gathered in violation of your rights.

Contact a San Francisco DUI Defense Lawyer

Contact Burglin Law Offices, P.C. to discuss your case with a Napa DUI defense lawyer. Mr. Burglin has successfully represented many clients who have been charged with drunk driving. Call 415-729-7300 to schedule a free consultation.




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