A police officer cannot detain you arbitrarily under Minnesota and United States law. Typically, a police officer requires “reasonable suspicion” to initiate a traffic stop. Reasonable suspicion entails that the officer has grounds for suspecting criminal activity. It does not necessarily imply that criminal activity is occurring, only that there are indications that criminal activity may be occurring.
How does this affect you? If you want to avoid being pulled over by the police, it’s best not to give them any reason to suspect that a crime, such as DWI, has been committed.
What are the grounds for a DWI stop?
Officers in Minnesota look for a number of indicators to determine if they can pull someone over to determine if they have been drinking.
Here are the most prevalent signs:
The most frequent reason for a DWI stop is a moving violation. A police officer can pull you over and issue a ticket for failing to signal a turn or having an equipment violation. Once the officer is at your vehicle, they will typically ask if you’ve been drinking and look for signs of intoxication, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and alcohol-scented breath. In addition, many officers will inquire about your alcohol consumption.
If you indicate that you have, the officer will have probable cause to investigate whether you are intoxicated further.
Legally Irregular Driving
Even if you do not commit a traffic violation, the officer may still have reasonable suspicion to pull you over for suspicion of DWI if you engage in suspicious behavior. These include excessive acceleration, lane swerving, jerky driving, and other similar actions. Although many of these behaviors can be explained by environmental factors, such as high wind or poor visibility, an officer could argue that they indicate alcohol-impaired driving.
If conditions are challenging, you should drive as cautiously as possible to avoid the appearance of intoxication.
Suspended or Revoked License
In Minnesota, police cars are equipped with computers that can verify a driver’s license. If you are driving without a valid license, an officer can scan your license plates and obtain a photo of you. Officers can pull you over for driving without a valid license if the photo matches the driver. Although you will be penalized for driving without a valid license, the stop will also allow the officer to check for signs of intoxication.
If your license prohibits alcohol consumption, this stop could cause you significant trouble.
Citizen’s Concerned Report
Many bars, liquor stores, and other businesses in Minnesota want to reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on the road. Therefore, if you appear extremely intoxicated, someone in a bar or restaurant may call the police to report you as a possible drunk driver. If a bartender suggests that you take a cab or make other arrangements to get home, it is usually best to heed their advice and avoid further trouble.
These are some of the most common causes for a Minnesota police officer to pull someone over on suspicion of driving under the influence. In Minnesota, DWIs are extremely serious offenses whose severity frequently depends on the specifics of the case.
Drive safely and make intelligent choices.
Nonetheless, if you or someone you know is in trouble, please contact Ambrose Law in Minneapolis to discuss your defense and options. Future posts will describe what occurs after a traffic stop and what your options are if you are arrested.