Common Reasons You May Get Pulled Over in Suspicion of a DUI

Woman driver pulled over by police car - police lights in background

Getting pulled over for driving under the influence often doesn’t seem to be based on alcohol or drugs when it all starts. Often, you may get pulled over for something else, and then arrested on suspicion of a DUI. Find out what the police are looking for and when they have the right to pull you over for drunk driving.

Georgia’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Initiative

The Office of Highway Security has labelled Georgia a “Zero Tolerance” state when it comes to drinking and driving. Georgia has joined many other states in trying to reduce the amount of drunk drivers on the road, especially during holidays and other common drinking events. The Georgia police have launched a “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” initiative that covers:

  • July 4th
  • Labor Day
  • Christmas & New Year’s Eve
  • The Super Bowl
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Cinco de Mayo

During these periods, police officers are on the lookout for suspicion of a DUI, and getting pulled over is much more likely if they believe you are over the legal limit.

Can a Cop Pull You Over for No Reason?

The Georgia and United States Constitutions both say that the police can’t just pull you over for no reason. They have to have some reasonable suspicion that a law has been broken. However, reasonable suspicion is a very low bar. Often, as a driver, it can feel like you are getting pulled over for no reason. In other cases, however, the police may pull you over for one thing (such as speeding) and then change their investigation to drunk driving after they observe your behavior, smell alcohol on your breath, or believe you are slurring your words.

If the police want to arrest you, though, it takes more than just reasonable suspicion. The bar raises to “probable cause” -- meaning that the police must have evidence to suggest that a crime probably happened and you probably did it. Police often make these decisions quickly. The lack of probable cause is a common defense in DUI cases. In these cases, criminal defense attorneys can prove that the police didn’t have a good enough reason to arrest you, and ask the court to exclude any evidence they may have obtained during the illegal arrest.

Common Reasons for Getting Pulled Over by Police

The police can’t always tell that you are driving drunk before they pull you over. Instead, many drivers may get pulled over on suspicion of a DUI based on some other traffic violation, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Swerving in the lane
  • Reckless driving
  • Following to closely
  • Racing
  • Aggressive driving
  • Failure to obey traffic signals
  • Texting while driving
  • Illegally passing a school bus

These initial traffic violations can quickly turn into a DUI investigation if the officer sees evidence of impairment or signs of drugs or alcohol (such as empty bottles, zip papers, or drug paraphernalia).

Does Georgia Allow DUI Checkpoints?

Georgia law also allows the police to set up DUI checkpoints at places where driving under the influence is common. These checkpoints don’t require the same reasonable suspicion as a traffic stop. Instead, they allow police officers to screen every vehicle that comes through them for signs the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What Signs Do Police Look for as Evidence of Drunk Driving?

Whether you are getting pulled over at a traffic stop, or going through a DUI checkpoint, the police will be looking for the same indicators of drunk or drugged driving:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination or motor function
  • Confusion or inability to answer questions
  • The smell of drugs or alcohol

When that happens, the police may investigate further by asking you to complete certain field sobriety tests or perform a blood, breath, or urine test. These chemical tests are all designed to confirm you are under the influence. However, many field sobriety tests are faulty, and chemical tests can often be performed improperly. Even if you have a positive test result, your criminal defense attorney can still find ways to defend you in your DUI or drug case.

At The McCoy Law Firm, our criminal and DUI attorneys know the rules for when the police can pull you over on suspicion of DUI. If you believe you were pulled over for no reason, or if you are facing drugged or drunk driving charges, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to keep your record clean and protect your right to drive. Don’t wait. Contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia so we can begin working on your case right away.

Categories: DUI