Driving under the influence is the most common charge that brings ordinary people into the criminal justice system. The consequences can negatively affect your finances, social life, and job, and you may also have to face court appearances, fines, and a suspension or revocation of your license. That’s why it’s so important that you understand Pennsylvania law, the rules and regulations surrounding DUI arrests, and the legality of the initial stop and arrest.
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania—especially if you’re innocent—you may be wondering why you were pulled over. That begs the question—what gives police reason to suspect you’re driving drunk? We’ve broken down everything you need to know.
Reasonable Suspicion and Probable Cause
Before you can recognize the top reasons why police pull individuals over for DUI, it’s essential to understand the legality of making a stop. This involves reasonable suspicion and probable cause. The U.S. Constitution indicates that law enforcement must have a certain level of justification before initiating a traffic stop and DUI arrest. If these standards aren’t met, you may have legal recourse.
Reasonable Suspicion in DUI Cases
In most cases, law enforcement must have a reasonable suspicion that a person has violated the law to legally pull them over for DUI. In other words, an officer must have reason to believe that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or will be committed. Though reasonable suspicion is subjective, law enforcement officials must base their decision to detain someone on more than just a hunch. Alcohol doesn’t necessarily have to be involved. Any traffic violation or infraction is enough.
Probable Cause in DUI Cases
Reasonable suspicion allows a police officer to stop and detain a motorist. Still, they must meet the standard of probable cause before arresting a suspected drunk driver, searching a vehicle, or obtaining a warrant. Determining probable cause means gathering enough evidence that a reasonable person would believe a crime has been, is being, or will be committed.
Top 5 Reasons Police Stop Drivers for DUI in Pennsylvania
Unless an officer sees you stumbling out of a bar and driving off in your car, they must base their suspicion of drunk driving on your control of the vehicle. Some common sloppy or distracted driving habits may look to a cop like drunk driving and lead them to pull you over. These causes can include the following:
- Wide turns: The officer witnessed you turning with a considerable amount of space between your wheels and the curb.
- Weaving: The officer witnessed you driving erratically or swerving in and out of lanes.
- Careless driving: The officer witnessed you breaking traffic laws, following too closely, or making abrupt stops.
- Inconsistent speed: The officer witnessed you continuously speeding up and slowing down.
- Collisions: The officer witnessed you hit, scrape, or damage property.
If the police can’t produce a viable explanation for the stop, they may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights. Contact an experienced Montgomery County DUI defense attorney for help protecting your legal rights as soon as possible.
Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer in Montgomery County
If you’ve been arrested for DUI and think your rights may have been infringed upon based on an illegal stop, act quickly to contact an attorney following your arrest. The Pennsylvania DUI attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we’re dedicated to fighting for your rights and protecting your interests throughout the legal process. Our highly trusted and well-versed legal team understands the ins and outs of Montgomery County DUI defense law and will be with you every step of the way.
For more than 65 years, the attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford have been serving clients’ legal needs in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, Chester County, Delaware County, and throughout the surrounding areas. We’ve earned the trust and respect of clients facing a wide range of legal problems, including DUI defense law. Our attorneys are ready to protect you and guard your rights. Call (215) 822-7575 or complete our online contact form today.