Why Police Pull You Over

In the State of California, a police officer must have a reason to pull a driver over, before doing so. Inconsistent driving patterns, a broken taillight, running a stop sign, or making an illegal turn are all infractions which allow a police officer to pull you over. While many driving infractions may be the result of simple mistakes or a lack of good judgment, they are not serious crimes.

Police officers have been trained to associate irregular driving behavior with alcohol and/or drug impairment, and may suspect that you are driving under the influence. When a law enforcement officer pulls you over for any driving infraction which they observe, they will request that you show them proper documentation, which you must do. You do not, however, need to volunteer any information or answer any questions about whether or not you have been drinking, where you have been, etc.

The police may pull your vehicle over for a number of reasons including broken lights, expired plates, etc. and may, when they pull you over, suspect that you are driving under the influence. They may also suspect that you are driving your vehicle while under the influence if you demonstrate “abnormal” driving behavior. NHTSA (the National Highway Transportation Safety Association), in conjunction with various law enforcement agencies, have come up with a set of “clues” that they say may determine that you are DUI. They are as follows:

Problems Maintaining Proper Lane Position – When a police officer observes a driver who is weaving, making turns in a wide radius, driving over the line or almost hitting another vehicle, the officer may pull the driver over on suspicion of drunk driving.

Problems with Braking and Speeding – Many times, police officers look for suspected drunk drivers who speed up or slow down for no apparent reason, lack the ability to maintain a constant speed, and drive ten or more miles per hour under the speed limit.

Problems with Vigilance – When noticing vigilance problems, police officers may look for drivers who are driving in opposing lanes, slow to respond to traffic signals, driving without turning their headlights on during nighttime, failing to signal when changing lanes, or signaling without then taking the appropriate actions.

Problems with Judgment – There are many judgment related clues that law enforcement officers look for to determine drunk driving, including following too closely, lane changes which are unsafe or improper, making illegal turns, inappropriate responses or behavior, and driving on something other than a designated road.

When a police officer pulls you over, there are certain clues that they will try to observe to determine whether or not they believe that you are intoxicated:

  • Trouble with vehicle controls
  • Difficulty getting out of the vehicle
  • Awkward with retrieval of driver’s license or registration
  • Repeating questions or comments
  • Swaying, unsteady, or balance problems
  • Inability to stand up by one’s self (leaning a part of the vehicle)
  • Slurred speech
  • Slow response to officer
  • Providing incorrect information while being questioned
  • Changes answers while being questioned
  • Smelling like alcohol

Of the many reasons why an individual may exhibit any of the above mentioned signs of intoxication, not one of them alone can prove that you had been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf have been helping individuals charged with drunk driving offenses in California for over 40+ years. Mr. Wolf has both prosecuted and defended thousands of adults and juveniles charged with DUI, license suspension, drunk driving, driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter crimes.

Lawrence Wolf has been a pioneer in developing all forms of alternative sentencing such as house arrest and diversionary programs. As a DUI defense lawyer, he has established relationships with Judges and District Attorneys throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties.

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Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Disclaimer: The felony, misdemeanor, traffic, criminal defense, drunk driving, DUI, theft, drugs, three strikes law, juvenile law, or other legal criminal defense information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results portrayed here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ if based on different facts.