The majority of arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) begin in one of two ways: you were either involved in an accident or the police suspected you of drunk driving.
What gives police reason to suspect you’re driving drunk?
This is important information to know because in order for the charges to stick, the officer must be able to provide a reason for detaining you.
Why Do Police Pull People Over?
It’s important to know that police officers do not have to suspect you’re driving drunk in order to pull you over and charge you with drunk driving. Rather, the officer merely needs a reason to suspect you’re violating any traffic law.
Here’s a listing of the most common reasons drivers get pulled over by police.
- Driving over the speed limit or too fast for conditions. Police know that the faster you’re going, the longer it will take you to react to an unexpected situation. Whether they use radar or their own speedometer to track your speed, police in virtually every jurisdiction make stopping speeders a priority. That’s reflected by the fact that more than 40 million speeding tickets are issued each year.
- Driving too slowly. So, if driving too fast can get you pulled over, what’s the rationale for being pulled over for driving too slow? Police realize that slow drivers can irritate other drivers. This often leads to the other drivers aggressively passing the slow ones. The tipoff for the cop, though, is the realization that driving slow is exactly what impaired drivers often do to avoid accidents.
- Headlights not on or not working. When drivers are pulled over by police at night, it’s often because the headlights aren’t on or are simply not working. Even though the majority of newer vehicles have headlights that turn on automatically, sometimes the vehicle settings are turned back to manual operation. Another potential problem is the difficulty to recognize when only one headlight is working.
- Wrong equipment on your vehicle. If you have windows that exceed tinting regulations or a roaring exhaust, you’re practically begging the police to pull you over. Here in Kentucky, there are strict guidelines as to how much tint your vehicle windows can have. For example, all front side windows must allow more than 35 percent of light in.
- Texting. While it’s legal in Kentucky to talk on your cell phone while driving, you cannot text. Even though sending a text-only takes a few seconds, it’s best to pull over to the side of the road and bring your vehicle to a complete stop first.
- Not staying in your own lane. Swerving in your lane or suddenly changing lanes without signaling can easily get the unwanted attention of police officers.
- Tailgating. No matter how big of a hurry you’re in, it’s best to follow the “three-second rule” when traveling behind another vehicle. The easiest way to do this is to select a point on the road and make sure the car in front of you passes it at least three seconds before you.
Police pull people over practically every minute of every day for any number of reasons. Again, though, if you’re charged with a DUI, the officer must be able to provide the court with a good reason why you were detained.
What Rights Do I Have When Being Pulled Over?
For many, the reflexive response when seeing flashing police car lights in their rearview mirror is to pull over immediately. If there’s a steady flow of traffic around you or insufficient lighting, you have the right to wait until you can find a place that makes you more comfortable.
The sooner you pull over, though, the better.
You do not have to take a breathalyzer or field sobriety test. Even if the officer uses heavy-handed tactics to try to force you to take either test, there’s simply no good reason for you to do so.
By refusing, you’ll likely be charged with DUI, but there’s a good chance that your criminal defense lawyer will be able to either have the charge reduced or dismissed altogether. That’s great news because Kentucky’s DUI laws are stiff.
The only information you have to give is your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Other than that, the less you say the better. Most people become nervous or agitated when talking with police, and that’s understandable.
The problem, though, is if that nervousness often makes people a bit chatty. Remember, anything you say to the officer will be used against you. So, keep your conversation to a minimum.
The key takeaway is to refrain from making any actions on the road that will draw the attention of police officers. If you are pulled over and charged for DUI, say as little as you can and contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible.