For a police officer to lawfully stop someone on suspicion of DUI, the officer must either have observed the person violate the law or the officer must see a driving pattern that reasonably suggests that the person is intoxicated. The officer must have reasonable cause to make the traffic stop because if they don’t, any evidence gathered during the stop will probably not be admissible in court later.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has identified the 20 most common driving patterns that suggest that a driver is intoxicated. The driving patterns that usually suggest that a driver is intoxicated include:
- Turning with a wide radius
- Almost striking an object or vehicle
- Straddling the center or lane marker
- Appearing to be drunk and
- Crossing the center lane
Although driving patterns are important evidence in DUI cases, a driving pattern reported by a police officer might be incomplete or subjective based solely on the officer’s beliefs about whether someone is intoxicated. Also, a police officer may fail to include in their report the ways that someone’s driving pattern may be consistent with sobriety.
DUI Driving Pattern FAQ’s
What if I was weaving in traffic because I was fatigued and not intoxicated?
What if I was stopped by the police because I was speeding but I was not intoxicated?
You should discuss this with your DUI attorney. Many times, a police officer will make a DUI traffic stop solely based on someone speeding when the person actually was not intoxicated. Even though it is unlawful to speed in California, this is not always conclusive evidence that the driver was intoxicated.
What if my driving pattern was erratic because I was distracted by something?
You should talk to your DUI attorney about this. Sometimes, a driver may weave out of their lane because they were inattentive or were doing something such as eating or reading, and they were not intoxicated at all. If the police officer in your case made a DUI traffic stop that was not justified, this could be a ground for a dismissal of the case against you.
What if my driving pattern was erratic because I have a medical condition?
Sometimes a police officer will not have conducted a proper roadside investigation about medical or physical conditions that may have caused a driving pattern that suggested that you were impaired when you were actually sober. However, it can still be used against you to establish reasonable suspicion to pull you over.
Hiring An Attorney
The state of California has implemented tough drunk driving laws, and sometimes a police officer may stop someone for DUI based on their driving pattern. In many cases, the police officer may fail to note a person’s proper driving patterns, even though the driver was not intoxicated and maintained a safe speed and obeyed all traffic laws.
At the Aizman Law Firm, our experienced DUI attorneys can help you with questions you might have about whether there was a valid legal reason for the police to make a DUI stop in your case. If you need to speak to an attorney about your DUI case or about whether the police made a lawful traffic stop in your case, please call our office at: (818) 351-9555.