It is common knowledge that police officers can’t just stop you without a reason. However, many people don’t realize just how low the standard is for the police to initiate a traffic stop. The officer only needs to have reasonable suspicion that something illegal is going on in the vehicle.
In the case of suspected drunk driving, the only thing an officer needs to see in order to make a traffic stop are signs that your ability to drive is impaired. This can be something as small as swerving between lanes or driving too slowly.
Several other things might also make the officer suspect that you might be impaired:
- Making illegal turns
- Almost hitting items on the side of the road
- Straddling the center line
- Stopping in the middle of the road without cause
- Driving too slow or too fast
- Making erratic decisions
Once the officer stops you, they must determine whether you are impaired or not. There are many ways to do this. Taking a breath test or a field sobriety test are two standard methods for doing this at the scene. If you don’t pass those, you will almost certainly face arrest.
The officer must have probable cause to initiate the arrest. There is a fine line between reasonable suspicion and probable cause. The primary difference is that there must be evidence that you likely committed a crime. Failing the field sobriety or breath test can be enough probable cause for the officer to arrest you.
From that point, it’s wisest to focus on what you can do to protect your rights and preserve your future. Talking with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you explore your options.