Fighting Pretext Stops in DUI Cases

It is a common belief that police officers stereotype individuals they see on the road and use pretexts to stop those that fit their pre-conceptions. They then use an excuse to search the vehicle for drugs or to test the driver for intoxication. Whether the officer was objective in making a stop, however, is highly difficult to establish. If you are stopped and then arrested for driving under the influence, it is important to call an experienced Memphis DUI attorney who can help you.

One difficulty in fighting stops involving improper officer motivation is that even if this is established, it does not generally negate the stop. Unless it is a matter of equal protection issues, the officer can successfully argue he had reasonable grounds for pulling you over. The United States Supreme Court has, in fact, approved such stops.

We’ve all heard of people being pulled over for a broken tail light and then having to submit to a DUI test. There are myriad excuses an officer can use as a basis for stopping you, and if you exhibit any sign of intoxication you will be asked to test.

One of the most common reasons an officer may use to pull you over is if you are weaving within the lane. Inability to drive in a straight line is highly suspicious. Courts have determined that when a driver is weaving the officer has sufficient cause for the stop. Often, however, there are qualifications placed on this finding. It is easy for a person to become distracted for a moment and begin to swerve to one side of the lane. Often courts have argued that there needs to be a substantial distance of swerving to constitute a stop. In a California case, this distance was as short as 3/4 mile.

Continued weaving, of course, generally signals that the driver is intoxicated, unless there is a mechanical issue with the car. Some courts have argued that this provides sufficient grounds for a stop. Other courts, by contrast, have suggested otherwise.

If the officer can establish that: (1) the stop was objectively reasonable and proper and (2) the underlying reason was to search for drugs or to test you, then the arrest will not be negated.

If you feel you have been improperly stopped and were then charged with a DUI after that stop, call Memphis DUI attorney John H. Parker, II today for a free initial consultation.