A person cannot just be stopped and arrested for a DUI. There needs to be a reason for the police to stop a person and reasonable suspicion they were driving while drunk. Prior to the arrest, the police will gather evidence that can enable them to prove the person was driving while under the influence.
Reason for the Stop
The police need to have a reason to stop a vehicle. This can be anything from seeing the driver swerve into the next lane, fail to use their turn signal, or drive dangerously. Once the officers have stopped the vehicle, they may note there is a possibility the person has been drinking. Typical signs of this include breath that smells like alcohol, slurred speech, and impaired movement. At this point, the stop is no longer just because of the initial infraction, but for a DUI charge.
Field Test for Intoxication
One of the ways to find out if a person is intoxicated is a field test. These are done when the person is pulled over and can give the officers a good idea of whether the person is capable of driving or is likely over the legal limit for driving. The person does not have to consent to this test. The field test typically includes a few different tests such as walking a straight line or following the tip of a pen with their eyes but not moving their head.
Blood Alcohol Content Analysis
If the police believe the person is intoxicated and legally unable to operate a vehicle, they can then request a BAC (blood alcohol content) test. This is typically done at the scene via a breathalyzer, but the person’s blood can also be drawn to obtain an accurate estimate of the amount of alcohol in their system. There are often penalties for refusing this type of test.
Those who have been stopped under suspicion of driving under the influence will want to make sure they speak with a DUI criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible after their arrest. These tests are not always completely accurate and the reason for the initial stop might not be legally valid, so a lawyer may be able to have the evidence dismissed and help the person avoid or minimize the penalties they might be facing.