Police departments and state governments across the country have increasingly cracked down on drinking and driving over the past several decades, and nowhere is that more the case than right here in California. As you most likely know, the police can arrest you for a DUI in California if your blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08% or over. But before the police have the right to compel you to submit to a breathalyzer test, they must have a constitutionally valid reason to pull you over in the first place. The constitutional standard is that the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime (e.g. they believe that you are under the influence based on articulable facts) and that reasonable suspicion must be formed prior to pulling you over. Here are some of the most common reasons police officers use to justify having a reasonable suspicion in pulling drivers over on suspicion of a DUI.
One critical point to understand is that the police only need to have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed any illegal action in pulling you over, and it is not necessary that they be able to articulate a suspicion of your driving under the influence. Thus, if you are speeding, the police have a right to pull you over, and if they then suspect you have been drinking through slurred speech or some other sign, they can ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test.
Failure to Signal Lane Shift or Turn
Failing to use one’s turn signal when moving into another lane on the freeway is far more common in Southern California then in the rest of the country, but it is nevertheless illegal. It is probably not something that would get you pulled over normally, but if the police have any sort of suspicion you are under the influence based on any reason (even the make of your car or accessories on your car), this can give them a reason to pull you over.
No Lights on After Dark
We have all at one time or another pulled out of a well-lit parking structure at night and forgotten to turn our headlights on, but police know this oversight can often occur as a result of intoxication, and, clearly, you are in violation of the law if your lights are not on.
This is a classic reason police have for pulling drivers over, as alcohol can affect your motor skills, especially if you are otherwise distracted while driving.
Stopping Frequently and Slow or Erratic Driving
Even if you do not believe you are violating any traffic laws, driving which suggests that you have less than full, focused attention on the road can give the police reason to stop you. This might be demonstrated through slow driving, stopping in the road, or consistently erratic driving. That said, the police will nevertheless have to be able to prove that they had reasonable suspicion a crime was being committed. A good DUI defense lawyer will put your best arguments forward that the police lacked this reasonable suspicion and therefore your arrest was illegal.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney Today
The DUI attorneys at The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC, are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to protect your freedom, and to keep your driving record clean while reducing the impact of a DUI charge on your life and finances. We provide legal assistance in English, Spanish, Farsi, Korean, and Arabic. Contact our offices today to schedule a consultation with a DUI attorney to see what we can do for you.