Police officers are held to certain standards when they’re acting in a professional capacity. Patrolmen must have a valid reason for pulling over a vehicle. At the bare minimum, the officer must have reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop.
In the case of a suspected drunk driver, the officer would have to see signs that there is something illegal, such as impaired driving, occurring. Some of the more common signs of drunk driving include:
- Driving erratically
- Stopping without cause
- Failing to use a turn signal
- Swerving between lanes
- Hitting objects or nearly hitting them
Once the officer sees these signs, they can pull the vehicle over, make contact with the driver, and try to determine what’s going on. This includes conducting an interview, getting a chemical test or conducting a field sobriety test.
Probable cause to arrest
Officers can’t arrest people based on reasonable suspicion. Instead, they must have evidence of the driver being impaired. This is known as probable cause. A failed standardized field sobriety test or a chemical test with a result over .08% blood alcohol concentration can meet this standard. Once the person is arrested, they will go through the standard criminal justice procedure. In the case of drunk driving, there are also administrative penalties and procedures to consider.
Professionals who rely on a clean driving record and criminal history should explore every avenue for defense against any criminal charges. Working with someone who can determine how each charge can impact your criminal case and career might be beneficial. Just be sure you do this early in the case so you aren’t trying to rush to throw together a last-minute defense.