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How do police decide when to pull a driver over?

Perhaps you've been out with friends enjoying your weekend, or maybe you're on your way home from a romantic evening out with your partner when you see the flashing lights behind you. Nothing can ruin a pleasant evening like a stop for suspected drunk driving. At this point, you may be wondering what brought law enforcement's attention to you, and why he or she decided to pull you over.

Police have a significant amount of objective authority to make a traffic stop, but there are limits to what they can do. For example, police cannot stop a driver on the basis of his or her skin color, gender or even the type of vehicle the person is driving. To make a DUI traffic stop, there must be a specific reason to do so, called reasonable suspicion. 

What is reasonably suspicious behavior?

There are many reasons why the police may stop a driver for suspected DUI. Typically, this happens when a driver is exhibiting certain types of behavior, which may point to impairment from either drugs or alcohol. If it turns out this is not the case, the driver will be free to go. Some of the most common actions that may give an officer reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop include:

  • Drifting from lane to lane or swerving
  • Making an illegal turn
  • Speeding or slowing down without reason
  • Straddling the center line of the road
  • Coming close to hitting other objects
  • Stopping in the middle of the road for no apparent reason 

If you got pulled over for suspected drunk driving, the officer may then ask you a few questions. The smell of alcohol, erratic behavior and other things may then lead the officer to ask you to submit to a few sobriety tests. From there, you may have to submit to a chemical test of your blood or urine. 

What should you do next?

A DUI traffic stop can be intimidating and overwhelming. It can be especially daunting if you find yourself facing criminal charges when it's all over. At this point, you will find it beneficial to discuss your concerns with an experienced Florida defense attorney regarding your legal options.

A conviction is not your only option. You have the right to fight back, protect your future interests and preserve your right to drive. An assessment of your case can help you understand how to approach your defense.

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