Defending Your Rights. Protecting Your Future.

When can the police stop you to check for drunk driving?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | DUI

The U.S. Constitution guarantees you certain rights. For example, you are generally entitled to go about your daily life without being subjected to unreasonable stops and searches by the police. This rule applies when you are driving your vehicle just as it does when you are walking along the street

With that said, there are two primary situations wherein the police can legitimately ask you to pull over:

If you are passing through a legitimate sobriety checkpoint

Provided that a checkpoint complies with all necessary laws and the police carry out the check per the law, officers can require you to pull over when you encounter one.

If they have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity

The police need reasonable suspicion that you have broken the law in order to initiate a lawful stop. They might also be justified in stopping you if they reasonably suspect that you are breaking it or have broken it before. Examples of conduct that could fuel reasonable suspicion could include:

  • You are drinking out of a bourbon bottle as you drive
  • You are drifting between lanes as you drive
  • You are traveling over the speed limit
  • Your tail light is broken
  • Your description matches that of a suspect they were told to look out for

Once officers stop you, they can ask you a few questions. If they suspect you have been drinking, or you tell them that you have, then they may ask you to perform some tests. The goal is to give them the higher level of justification needed – known as “probable cause”- to arrest you.

Yet, even if they get that proof, their original reason for pulling you over still matters. If you can show the officers did not have reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place, then a court may decide to throw out the case against you.

Disproving reasonable suspicion is not easy, but it is possible in some cases with appropriate legal guidance.