One of the first questions police officers ask drivers after pulling them over is, “Do you know why I stopped you?” Whether you know the answer to this or not, one thing is certain: The officer must have an answer.
Police cannot pull drivers over and detain them for no reason. An officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a driver has committed or is committing a crime. That said, it does not take much to justify a traffic stop in Tennessee.
Reasonable suspicion examples
As this article on reasonable suspicion discusses, police officers may stop a driver for any number of reasons, no matter how minor they might seem. For example, you could get pulled over for:
- Drifting out of your lane for a few seconds
- Having expired tabs
- Resembling another criminal suspect
- Dropping something out of your window
- Driving a little bit over the speed limit
- Driving a car that matches the description of a vehicle reported stolen
Even though these factors may not be illegal or a sign that you are intoxicated, they could meet the reasonable suspicion standard, allowing police to pull you over.
How this can contribute to a DUI
Once police pull you over, they can look for signs that you may have been drinking. Some common things that might trigger DUI suspicions include:
- Smelling of alcohol
- Having a wristband or hand stamp showing you were at a bar
- Giving inconsistent answers to the officer’s questions
- Fumbling with your ID or other paperwork
These elements can give an officer the impression that you are impaired or have consumed alcohol, in addition to the other signs of intoxication, including glassy eyes, slurred speech and poor coordination.
In other words, police make numerous observations when they pull someone over; it does not take much for a traffic stop to become a much more severe event for a driver accused of drunk driving.
Protecting yourself from DUI charges
Avoiding a traffic stop in the first place is the best way to avoid this situation. But if the police do conduct a traffic stop, you must scrutinize the stop to determine if it was improper.
Working to determine this with an experienced attorney can be crucial. If you can successfully challenge the stop, the courts may dismiss evidence resulting from the stop, which could lead to reduced or dropped charges.