In Orange County, it’s not uncommon to see the police patrolling the streets, especially near bars and on busy streets on Friday and Saturday nights. Let’s say one Friday evening, you met up with friends to have a drink at a local watering hole.
After having a drink and spending a few hours hanging out with your friends, you climbed in your car and drove home. A block away from the bar, you’re pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Our question is, could you spot illegal police stop if it was happening to you?
Did the Police Have Probable Cause?
So, you left a bar – that doesn’t give the police the automatic right to pull you over for driving under the influence (DUI). Perhaps you only had one drink and it was hours before the police stop. Perhaps you were drinking non-alcoholic beer or soda all night, or perhaps you were the designated driver.
In order for the police to pull you over on suspicion of DUI, first they must have “probable cause” to believe you were under the influence. Your presence at a bar is not enough to confirm this. If you were a victim of an unlawful police stop and you were later arrested for DUI, you may have a good reason to challenge your DUI charges in court.
What is unlawful police stop exactly? It’s where the police pull you over for DUI, but they don’t have probable cause. Probable cause is some sort of an indication that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime was committed. Here are some indications of possible drunk driving that could give the police probable cause to initiate a lawful stop:
- Erratic driving,
- Weaving in and out of lanes,
- Driving without headlights at night,
- Running through a red light or a stop sign,
- Sudden stopping and accelerating, and
- A concerned citizen puts in a 911 call, alerting the authorities about a possible drunk driver on the road.
In light of the above information listed, the police need to have sufficient probable cause to lawfully commence a DUI stop. They cannot simply pull people over at random or hang out near bars and wait for patrons to leave the bar and drive home.
Just as it’s not legal for police officers to arrest people at random, they can’t cherry pick drivers just because they’re driving down Pacific Coast Highway late at night, assuming the driver just left an alcohol-infused party, or spent the night drinking at a bar.
Unfortunately, police officers are in the habit of waiting around to pull people over on suspicion of DUI, especially on weekends, holidays, and near bars and nightclubs. If you believe you were a victim of an unlawful police stop, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for a free consultation with the DUI Queen. Take advantage of our expertise in DUI defense to fight your DUI charges!