You got a DWI, but do you know why were you pulled over?

A traffic stop can be both humiliating and terrifying under any set of circumstances. Though, having a few drinks in your system typically makes matters worse.

You likely already know a drunk driving arrest could result in serious penalties. Even if you are careful about not drinking too much, a traffic stop could change your life. However, did you know a law enforcement officer must have probable cause to pull you over?

Why might a suspicion of drunk driving exist?

If a court charges you with driving while intoxicated (DWI), you will face license suspension, jail time and financial penalties.

However, the police cannot legally conduct a traffic stop unless they have reason to believe your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit. As such, if an officer does not cite specific reasons for pulling you over, you may be able to use their behavior in your defense.

Although reasons other than drunkenness could be behind these and other risky driving behaviors, you might agree it would be reasonable for an officer to suspect you are unfit to drive because they witnessed you:

  • Fail to turn your headlights on while driving after dark
  • Use your turn signal incorrectly
  • Weave in and out of your lane
  • Drive substantially slower than the posted speed limit
  • Barely avoid a collision with another vehicle
  • Make inappropriate stops
  • Maintain a low speed

Regardless of what happens during a traffic stop, safety is always the primary concern when you get behind the wheel. However, depending on your circumstances, the laws meant to define traffic safety oversight could factor into whether you retain your freedom and driving privileges.