One way police ensure that drivers are obeying the laws is by performing traffic stops. Individuals typically don’t have to undergo traffic stops every day. In other words, if a police officer pulls you over, you likely have many questions.
If an officer pulls your vehicle over, then you may need to know the following information:
1. What is reasonable suspicion?
Police must have reasonable suspicion to pull over vehicles. Reasonable suspicion is an officer’s intuition that a crime has taken place, is taking place or may take place in the future. An example of reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop would be finding someone driving on the centerline, drifting, making traffic violations or braking frequently. If an officer finds that their suspicion is correct, then they may ask a driver to perform a sobriety test.
2. What is a field sobriety test?
There are two kinds of sobriety tests; many officers will ask drivers to first perform a field sobriety test if they believe a driver is inebriated. A field sobriety test is a physical evaluation that may include a horizontal gaze test, a walk-and-turn test or something similar.
3. What is BAC?
Alternatively, an officer may ask a driver to take a breath test, using a small machine that tests the user’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The BAC is the amount of alcohol that can be found in someone’s ystem. A positive BAC can show that a driver may be impaired, while a BAC of .08% or above is considered clear intoxication as a matter of law.
4. What is implied consent?
Many people believe they can refuse sobriety tests and avoid a criminal charge. However, under implied consent laws, drivers may only refuse a field sobriety test without facing repercussions. Refusing a breath test may lead to more criminal charges.
5. Should you seek legal help?
Traffic laws are very nuanced. As such, many people should understand their legal rights to avoid or defend against criminal charges, particularly if a traffic stop eventually lead to drunk driving charges.