Nothing can ruin a California road trip quite like seeing flashing lights from a police patrol car in your rear-view mirror. If you're like most motorists, your heart may beat faster the moment you realize a police officer is attempting a traffic stop while you're behind the wheel. Hopefully, your driver's license and vehicle registration and insurance information are easily accessible.
If the officer starts to ask questions, such as whether you have been drinking alcohol or have been taking any medication before driving, it's a definite sign that he or she suspects you of a crime. While such situations are typically quite stressful, it's critical that you remember your rights and try to remain as calm as possible. It's also essential that the officer had reasonable cause to pull you over.
What constitutes reasonable suspicion?
A police officer can't act on a whim to stop you and tell you to exit your vehicle. If he or she suspects DUI, the stop must include reasonable cause for that suspicion. The following list includes issues that police officers often state as reasonable causes that prompted them to make traffic stops on suspicion of DUI:
- A vehicle was veering side-to-side in its lane.
- A vehicle drifted over the center yellow line.
- A driver made a turn using the wrong turn signal.
- A driver was traveling without headlights after dark.
- A motorist was applying brake lights erratically.
- A car comes close to hitting a pedestrian or vehicles parked alongside the road.
- A car hits a curb while making a turn.
While these are not the only reasons a police officer may have cause to suspect DUI and make a traffic stop, they are some of the most common issues associated with reasonable suspicion. The main point is that no police officer can pull you over for DUI without having reasonable suspicion to make the stop. Doing so could possibly violate the Fourth Amendment rights that protect you from unlawful searches or seizures.
If you do wind up in the back of a police car on your way to jail on suspected DUI and you believe the officer in question violated your personal rights, you can bring the matter to the court's immediate attention. In past similar situations, some California motorists have obtained case dismissals by providing evidence to show that police had no reasonable suspicion for pulling them over.