Nobody likes to see the red and blue flashing lights in their rear view mirror, and that can be an especially scary sight if you’ve had anything to drink before getting behind the wheel. Police conduct thousands of these traffic stops every day, but what allows them to pull a vehicle over and check to see if the driver is under the influence? After all, they can’t just stop any vehicle they want at random to see if the driver is under the influence.
In today’s blog, we take a closer look at when police can legally conduct a traffic stop in Minnesota.
When Can Police Pull You Over To See If You’re Drunk?
As we mentioned in the introduction, police can’t just pull over whoever the want to see if the driver is under the influence. If there is no basis for the traffic stop, then any evidence obtained during the interaction may be inadmissible. In order for a police officer to legally conduct a DWI traffic stop, they must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has taken place.
They don’t need to have reasonable suspicion that you’re under the influence of alcohol, they just need to have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. An officer may have reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence when they pull over the driver, or they may pull them over on suspicion of something else and later come to realize during their conversation that the driver’s slurred speech or bloodshot eyes may be the result of intoxication.
Examples of actions that would constitute reasonable suspicion include:
- Failing to maintain driving lane
- Rolling a stop sign
- Narrowly missing a parked vehicle
- Driving at erratic speeds
- Driving recklessly
An officer can also pull you over for a vehicle violation, like a broken tail light or expired license plate tags. Again, they are not looking for a DWI at this point, but it’s a legal traffic stop because they have reasonable suspicion of a crime, so if they later witness anything that suggests you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it doesn’t matter that you what you were originally stopped for, because the circumstances have now justified a legal DWI investigation.
Physical factors that can suggest to the officer that the driver may be under the influence of alcohol include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- The smell of alcohol
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty concentrating or following directions
- Alcohol in plain sight inside the vehicle.
Defending A DWI Charge
If you’ve been charged with a DWI, it’s important to consult with a lawyer and go over all your options. Police need to follow protocols, and if you were profiled or unjustly stopped, their whole case can unravel. Talk with a lawyer who knows all the ways to challenge your case and push back against the prosecution.
Avery and his team have been doing that for years, and we’d be happy to do it in the event you find yourself facing a DWI charge. For more information, or to bring on a lawyer to develop your defense plan, reach out to Appelman Law Firm today at (952) 224-2277.