The Basics of a DUI Traffic Stop

Criminal Lawyer

Having a good time out and about with friends is the way you may choose to blow off steam after a long work week. You are smart enough to know when to cut yourself off from partaking in adult beverages, so you feel confident that your drive home will be without incident.

However, not far from home, you see those blue and red lights in your rearview mirror and start to panic. While you know you had a few drinks, you do not believe the officer has reason to pull you over. Before panic sets in, take the time to familiarize yourself with some of the basics of a DUI stop.

The Reason You Got Pulled OverĀ 

When a law enforcement officer pulls you over, they typically approach your window and start engaging in conversation. The officer has to reveal his reason for pulling you over, so the less you say at this early point, the better. A police officer cannot initiate a traffic stop unless they witnessed you commit a traffic infraction, your driving is erratic, or you have a warrant out for your arrest. The officer may suspect you are impaired, but cannot use this to initiate the stop.

Field Sobriety TestingĀ 

The officer will ask that you participate in a series of simple tasks. These physical tasks are used to measure your balance, agility and ability to follow directions. If you have a difficult time with one of the tasks, but do well with the others, it will probably not be enough for the officer to use against you. However, failing portions or all of the tests will weigh heavily against you.

Taking a Breathalyzer Test

After the field sobriety tests are complete, the officer may ask you to take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse the test, your license may get confiscated on the spot and suspended for a pre-determined amount of time according to each state’s laws. This is because many states have implied consent laws on the books. When you got your license, you gave your implied consent to submit to a breath or blood test when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that you may be driving under the influence. Under the terms of this implied consent, failure to take either test results in immediate suspension of your driving privileges. You may also have to go through some kind of remediation to get it back whether you are arrested or convicted of a DUI or not.

Getting stopped by a police officer for any reason is stressful, but after a few adult beverages, it may send you into a panic. If you get arrested for driving impaired, a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, CA is an important ally to have in your corner.


Thanks to The Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and DUI traffic stops.

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