In most cases, the police need to have reasonable suspicion to stop a car. This just means that they need a reason to conduct the traffic stop and investigation prior to talking to the driver. An officer may not know that the driver is impaired because they haven’t done things like smelling alcohol on their breath, listening to them slur their speech or giving them field sobriety tests or breath tests. All of that comes later, after the traffic stop, but reasonable suspicion must come first.
So what signs do officers look for in order to make a legal traffic stop and investigate further? It’s important for drivers to be aware, especially if they are concerned about an illegal stop.
Potential signs of intoxication
Police officers do know about many of the mistakes drivers tend to make when they are impaired. These could include:
- Braking or accelerating very aggressively.
- Not responding in time to traffic signals, like a green light.
- Driving far above the speed limit or far below it.
- Tailgating other vehicles and driving aggressively.
- Driving without the headlights on even when it’s dark outside.
- Making extra wide turns.
- Drifting back and forth in the lane.
- Driving in the wrong direction, in the wrong lane or with the tires on both sides of the centerline.
- Almost causing an accident or having a near miss.
Once the police officer sees these issues, they can stop the driver to investigate why it’s happening. This could lead to a drunk driving arrest. Those who are facing serious charges must understand all of their legal options.