Though it might seem like it sometimes, police, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers cannot pull you over at random. The law requires that before an officer pulls you over for allegedly drinking and driving, they must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you actually are driving drunk. This means that the officer must have an objectively reasonable cause for pulling over a vehicle that they would be able to explain later, if necessary.
Evidence to justify a traffic stop
In theory, at least, the office must have more than a hunch that a driver is not sober to justify pulling them over. At the same time, it does not take much to create a suspicion that a judge will find reasonable. Observing a vehicle briefly drifting over the lane marker can be enough to justify a traffic stop. So can things like:
- Illegal turns
- Straddling the road’s centerline or lane lines
- Speeding or driving too slowly
- Erratic driving, such as sudden stops in the road for no apparent reason
- Nearly colliding with other vehicles or objects
In a recent example, North Dakota state Rep. Scott Louser was arrested on a DUI charge after being pulled over early in the morning of April 16. The Highway Patrol trooper said he pulled over Louser’s vehicle after allegedly observing him crossing the Expressway’s centerline “multiple times.” Louser has pleaded not guilty to the charge, and a trial date is set for August.
What to do after the police pulled you over illegally
You have rights at every stage of an encounter with the police, including while you are detained but not yet arrested. Proving that officers violated your rights often leads to the prosecution dropping the charges. Even if that did not happen, your defense attorney can help you do what is possible to minimize the impact a DUI charge has on your life.