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Police Officers Need Probable Cause to Stop a Drunk Driver

In order for a police officer to stop a car before that driver causes a DUI crash and injures another person, the police officer must have reason to stop the vehicle. This is referred to as probable cause. Certain driving behaviors witnessed by an officer or by other drivers on the road can provide the probable cause needed for law enforcement to stop the car. 

Examples of Probable Cause

When a police officer has probable cause due to any number of small traffic infractions, then that officer may pull over that driver for questioning. Ten examples of driving behaviors that could warrant stopping a suspicious driver may include:

  • Driving with headlights off at night
  • Drifting within one’s own lane or between lanes
  • Speeding up and slowing down too quickly
  • Braking too frequently
  • Driving too slowly
  • Following too closely
  • Making illegal turns
  • Driving on the lane divider
  • Having close calls of almost hitting other cars
  • Using turn signals inappropriately 

If a driver makes any of the traffic infractions listed above, then the police officer has probable cause to pull over the vehicle. A driver who makes one or more of these mistakes may not be drunk. However, intoxicated drivers tend to make multiple infractions like the ones listed above. 

Investigation

Once pulled over, a police officer can investigate for clues that the driver is drunk. The driver may smell like alcohol, have an open alcohol container in the car, have slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, or may become defensive when stopped. If a police officer believes the driver is drunk, he can request that the driver take a field sobriety test. Then the officer can determine whether he will arrest the driver on a DUI charge.

Unfortunately, police officers aren’t everywhere to stop drunk drivers. When a motorist drives drunk and isn’t caught or arrested in time, he can cause an Atlanta DUI crash and serious injuries to a Georgia drunk driving accident victim

If you were injured in a drunk driving crash, please call a Georgia DUI injury attorney today to request a free consultation at the Law Offices of Shane Smith at 770-HURT-999 or (866) 979-1629. We can also provide a complimentary copy of our book, I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver: What Do I Do Next? The Guide for Victims of Georgia Drunk Driving Accidents.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia