It’s late at night, and you’re driving away from dinner with friends at your favorite restaurant. Sure, you had a drink or two, but you feel fine enough to drive. Just a minute after you pull away from the parking lot, you notice the lights and hear the siren behind you. You’re being pulled over, but why? You didn't speed or violate a traffic law.
In Michigan and nationwide, law enforcement officers must have a reason to pull you over for suspected drunk driving. They can’t stop you just because you’re leaving a bar or restaurant. In this blog, I’m focusing on the main signs that Michigan police will look for when deciding whether to stop a person for DWI/DUI. I’m also going to weigh in on how an unnecessary stop can influence a DUI case.
Driving Behavior & DUI Stops in Michigan
Patrol officers are trained on the types of driving behavior that people may exhibit when they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They are trained to notice this behavior, assess the situation, and determine whether to pull a driver over to assess whether they’re intoxicated. In some cases, an officer may decide to follow a driver for a little while before pulling them over. In others, the officer may make an immediate stop.
There are four types of behavior law enforcement officers look for when spotting drunk drivers:
- Difficulty maintaining proper lane position. Drifting, straddling the lane line, weaving across lanes, swerving, and almost hitting an object or vehicle are all examples of driving behavior that an officer may consider to be a sign of intoxication/impairment. Turning with a too-narrow or too-wide radius are also examples of failing to maintain proper lane position.
- Problems with speed and braking. When a driver is speeding, driving too slowly, or accelerating/decelerating unnecessarily, this may be considered an indicator of DWI/DUI. Additional examples included jerky or abrupt stops, stopping far from a stop sign, or stopping in a crosswalk or intersection.
- Lack of vigilance. This includes problems with attention, like driving without headlights, driving the wrong way on a road, or not using a turn signal. Additional examples include slow responses to an officer’s lights and siren, or slow/no response to traffic signals.
- Poor judgment. Lack of proper judgment is considered one of the primary signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. Examples of driving behavior in this category may include following too closely, unsafe lane changes, illegal turns, or driving on the sidewalk or other area that is not a roadway.
Pulled Over? Talk to a Farmington Hills DUI Attorney.
When it comes to DUI stops, every single action an officer makes should be scrutinized. Unnecessary and unwarranted stops, searches, and arrests are unconstitutional. They are a clear violation of a driver’s Fourth Amendment rights. If you were pulled over because you exhibited any of the signs listed above, this does not mean that you can or should face DUI charges. Call an attorney and make sure they have the resources to mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. Looking at footage from the patrol car or the officer’s bodycam, reviewing the officer’s statements, and talking to witnesses may reveal evidence that shifts the case in your favor.
As a Farmington Hills DUI attorney who has been fighting in this field since 2002, I know the methods some officers use to wrongfully stop and arrest drivers. I know how to expose these and help my clients avoid convictions and the serious penalties these bring. To find out more about your rights and how I can help, call (248) 599-0054 or contact my firm online.