When can law enforcement stop a suspected drunk driver?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

It can be intimidating to see the flashing lights of a law enforcement vehicle in your rearview mirror. One moment you may be driving home, and the next moment you could find yourself having to submit to a breath test or field sobriety tests. A suspected drunk driving traffic stop has the potential to change your life, and it is important that you understand the steps you can take to protect your interests in this situation.

An important part of protecting your interests is knowing and understanding your rights. This starts with having knowledge of when police can initiate a suspected drunk driving traffic stop. If law enforcement did not have a valid reason to stop you while you were driving, it could invalidate the entire case against you. If you believe that the traffic stop that led to your arrest or subsequent criminal charges against you was invalid, you do not have to remain silent.

Actions that can lead to reasonable suspicion

In most cases, law enforcement will not make a traffic stop unless they have reasonable suspicion that a crime is taking place. They cannot detain an individual or pull a driver over without a valid reason to do so. The following actions may be grounds to initiate a drunk driving traffic stop by law enforcement:

  • Swerving from lane to lane
  • Driving at erratic speeds
  • Drifting too close to other vehicles
  • Frequently braking for no reason
  • Striking stationary objects on the sides of the road
  • Making an illegal turn or committing a traffic violation

This not a complete list. Law enforcement has the authority to make a traffic stop anytime they believe that a driver is acting in a way that is reckless or could indicate that he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Your best defense

It is important that you understand how to defend yourself in the event that you are charged with intoxicated driving in Virginia. An assessment of your case will help you understand if you experienced a violation of your rights during your interaction with law enforcement and if there were valid grounds to pull you over. You have the right to fight for your future interests when charged with drunk driving.