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Challenging a DUI traffic stop

Most drivers would agree that being pulled over for a traffic stop is an overwhelming experience. It is especially difficult when a driver feels as though he or she has done nothing wrong in the first place. Unreasonable traffic stops are probably more common than one might realize, which is why challenging the validity of a DUI traffic stop is often a key defense against allegations of drunk driving.

What is a reasonable traffic stop?

Kentucky police officers are not allowed to pull drivers over just because they are bored or have nothing else to do. Instead, officers must have reasonable suspicion that a crime might be taking place. In terms of reasonable suspicion for drunk driving, an officer might note some of the following behavior:

  • Frequent braking
  • Riding the center yellow line
  • Drifting in and out of traffic lanes
  • Narrowly avoiding collisions with other vehicles
  • Either speeding or driving extremely slow
  • Erratic driving

What about probable cause?

Just because an officer had reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop does not mean that he or she had probable cause for an arrest. Probable cause means that an officer has enough evidence to justify an arrest. This means that a driver cannot be arrested just because an officer suspects he or she might have been drinking. Instead, the officer needs further evidence, such as the results of a Breathalyzer test.

The legal consequences for drunk driving are steep. Kentucky defendants face jail time and fines, and can even lose their driving privileges without a conviction. Minimizing these potential consequences is typically a priority, and for some defendants this may mean challenging various aspects that led to their arrest, including the validity of a DUI traffic stop.