Why Police Might Pull You Over – MD DUI Traffic Stops
The majority of DUI arrests stem from a traffic stop by a police officer. Sometimes the officer witnesses driving violations that indicate impairment, such as weaving through lanes, making bad judgment calls, or driving with the headlights off. In other instances, you may be pulled over for something as simple as simple as not having proper license plate. An officer may have a reason for pulling you over and they must be able to articulate their justification. It is important to know why you can be pulled over to understand how to avoid being pulled over.
- Headlights – Your headlights are not just for your visibility. Working headlights are crucial for you to be seen as well. A police officer can pull you over if you are riving after dark without using your headlights or if one of your headlights is out or broken.
- Taillights – You can be pulled over by a police officer if one or both of your taillights are burned out or not working for any reason.
- Vehicle tag light – A police officer can pull you over if your vehicle tag light is not functioning properly.
- Expired registration tags – Driving in Maryland is a privilege, not a right. You must have proper insurance and registration. If you have expired tags on your car, you can be pulled over.
- Minor traffic infraction – This can include traffic violations such as running a red light or stop sign.
- Restricted visibility – Are your windows excessively tinted? Do you have too many stickers and fuzzy dice in your window? In addition to protecting you, an officer is tasked with keeping others safe. Driving with limited visibility is dangerous and it can lead to probable cause for pulling you over.
- Speeding – Exceeding the speed limit is a common reason for being pulled over. While you can legally request to see the radar gun that determined you were speeding, a police officer is not required to show it to you.
- Erratic driving – Are you swerving or sliding in and out of your lane? Even if there are no other cars on the road, erratic driving is cause enough to be pulled over and potentially given field sobriety tests.
- Cell phone use – It is illegal to drive in Maryland while being on the phone without using a hands free device. You can be pulled over for being on the phone and fined.
- Texting while driving – You can face a misdemeanor charge for texting while driving. You are allowed to text 911 in emergency situations, but that is the only exception to the texting while driving law.
Many DUI traffic stop arrests stem from being pulled over for a less severe infraction. The best way to avoid being pulled over is to simply drive safely, within the speed limit and with your attention completely on the road.
Keep Your Car Maintained
Police officers often pull over cars for a variety of minor infractions, including a taillight that isn’t working properly or expired registration. Once the officer has pulled you over, he can establish “reasonable articulable suspicion” through a variety of ways, such as smelling the odor of alcohol coming from your vehicle. This reasonable articulable suspicion allows him or her to conduct sobriety tests. A drunk driving arrest can happen even if the officer never witnesses any impaired driving. However, most of these minor infractions, from having a taillight out to a cracked window, are preventable before you get in the car.
Doing all of the little things right—signaling before changing lanes, following the speed limit and coming to a full stop at stop signs—can prevent a traffic stop before it happens.
When You’ve Been Stopped
Make sure that you have your license, registration and insurance card ready to go when the police officer approaches the car. This shows that you’re alert and understand the situation.
The police officer will probably ask if you’ve been drinking. If you say you have been drinking, that alone does not give the officer enough information to administer field sobriety tests. However, an odor of alcohol plus red and glassy eyes and/or slurred speech will give the officer enough reasonable articulable suspicion to request that you perform field sobriety tests.
If the officer insists that you perform field sobriety tests he or she may ask you to perform a variety tests. These tests are used to establish whether you are driving while impaired or under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Whether you take these tests is your decision and is dependent on your particular circumstances. You should know that neither field sobriety tests nor breathalyzers are always reliable, and each test must be completed in a manner consistent with a set of tight restrictions. If not, the DUI arrest can be contested in court.
DUI traffic stops can be some of the most traumatic and troublesome experiences an individual can experience. Things get nothing but worse if you are arrested and charged with a DUI offense. The good news is that an arrest does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you are guilty of driving under the influence or driving while impaired. If you are in need of legal assistance with a DWI or DUI matter in in the state, count on Alpert Schreyer, LLC. For decades, Alpert Schreyer’s Maryland drunk driving attorneys have delivered excellent results time and again. Get a free consultation with an attorney by dialing (866) 444-6363 to learn more about the firm’s history, philosophy and experience.