Law enforcement has a long list of protocols to observe when officers are on duty. Something notable for many drivers on the road, patrols must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull drivers over. In other words, they must have a valid reason for conducting a traffic stop, which in turn can lead to arrest for crimes like driving under the influence of alcohol, cannabis or other drugs.
Questioning reasonable suspicion or probable cause is also one of the best defenses against these charges, regardless of what the officer finds during a preliminary investigation at the time of the stop.
Driving behaviors that officers look for
According to the Colorado Highway Patrol, some common driving behaviors that patrols attribute to intoxication include:
- Appearance: The driver appears to be intoxicated because their face is too close to the windshield, they are drinking an alcoholic beverage or other actions.
- Turns: This involves drivers making exceptionally or unnecessarily wide turns, abrupt turns, or illegal turns.
- Near misses: The driver comes close to striking another vehicle, pedestrian or object.
- Erratic driving: This involves drivers weaving through traffic, swerving or drifting out of their lane. It also may involve random braking while moving or stopping without cause.
- Driving the wrong speed: Driving faster than the legal limit or slowly for no reason will get an officer’s attention.
- Responding to traffic signals: Drivers who do not react appropriately to changing traffic signals or signage may be either intoxicated or distracted, and both are illegal.
- Not centering the vehicle: This involves drivers straddling a lane marker rather than keeping the vehicle in the middle of the lane.
These behaviors may not indicate intoxication
Those operating a vehicle must continually perform complex adjustments to keep a vehicle on the road. Sometimes these challenges can lead to mistakes or momentary lapses in attention or judgment that have nothing to do with impairment. It can involve distraction by a child or an adult passenger or vehicle information transmitted to the driver via the dashboard.
Those with questions about reasonable suspicion or probable cause for a ticket or driving under the influence may wish to discuss the details of the incident with an experienced criminal law attorney practicing here in Colorado. These legal professionals can evaluate the details of the situation and determine the best course of action.