Whether you attended a St. Patrick’s Day shindig, the San Antonio Flavor festival or just a get-together with some friends, the drive home may have had you thinking of all the fun memories from that event. However, when police pulled you over and asked if you had been drinking, you may have been filled with the dread that you were about to make a memory you certainly would want to forget.

Why did police pull you over in the first place? This is likely among the first questions a skilled attorney will ask when preparing a defense strategy for a drunk driving arrest. Unless your arrest occurred at a sobriety checkpoint, officers must have a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing before pulling you over.

What is reasonable suspicion?

Police cannot make a traffic stop just because you pull out of the parking lot of a bar or a food and beverage event. It is possible that an officer stopped you for another reason, such as having a tail light out. Upon approaching your vehicle, the officer may have incidentally smelled alcohol on your breath, noticed that your eyes were red or heard you slurring your words. However, assuming your vehicle lights were working, police must observe behavior that suggests you were impaired, such as:

  • Your vehicle straddled the center line.
  • You were drifting across both lanes.
  • You were driving slowly or erratically for no apparent reason.
  • You stopped your vehicle in the middle of the road with no cause.
  • You made an illegal turn.
  • You swerved close to hitting another vehicle, or you did strike a vehicle or object on the side of the road.
  • You kept braking for no reason.

These or other actions may have alerted police that you were struggling behind the wheel, which led officers to make an initial stop and perhaps subject you to roadside tests and breath tests to measure the amount of alcohol in your blood system.

The case is not closed

While reasonable suspicion may give police justification for pulling you over, they must establish probable cause before they can place you under arrest. Sobriety tests and breath tests can provide the evidence that a driver most likely committed a crime. It is that evidence that your attorney will challenge in court.

However, if police had no reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place, any evidence they collect may be inadmissible in court. You would be wise to reach out to a skilled attorney before you answer any questions from police or other authorities.