Drunk Driving – When Police Can Legally Stop, Detain And Arrest Driver

CriminalInteriorThe Police Right To Stop And Detain…

All  drunk driving cases start out with a contact between the driver of a motor vehicle and a police officer. While the police have the right to approach and speak with any person, they do not have the right to detain and investigate  someone unless they have “reasonable suspicion ” that a crime had been committed.


Police Have The Right To Make An Arrest When…

To make an arrest, the officer is held to a higher standard known as  “probable cause” which requires the officer to conclude you have committed a crime.  If the drunk driving defense attorney can prove to the judge the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle, or insufficient reason to form probable cause to make an arrest, the case may be dismissed. Having stated this, it should be disclosed that a dismissal based on these grounds rarely happen in drunk driving cases. This is because the police are trained how to document instances of reasonable suspicion and probable cause in their police reports. For example, the officer can state that he witnessed the vehicle swerve a few times, this itself would be enough to pull the driver over and further investigate the matter.

Officer Can Stop And Detain You For Minor Violations

Most detentions begin with the officer pulling over a driver who has committed some form of minor vehicle code infraction, or appears to be driving dangerously. The common reasons to stop and detain a driver are based on poor driving, speeding, weaving, running of a stop sign or red light. However, faulty equipment (head light, tail light, muffler) or expired registration will also provide the necessary reason to pull a driver over. A driver involved in an accident or in a car blocking the roadway may also give the officer the right to detain and investigate.

It is therefore important to discuss with your defense lawyer the manner in which you were driving. You will want to explore the issue of whether the officer actually had the opportunity to witness your driving.  As stated above, not only does the officer need a reasonable suspicion to detain and investigate, there must also be probable cause to make an arrest. The officer will make his decision to arrest based on two or three factors: the officers observations, field sobriety test, and in most jurisdictions, a a prliminary breath test which can be conducted at the time the driver is initially stopped and detained.

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