What Can Be Considered a Reason To Stop in a DWI Case?

October 24, 2022
male driver being stopped by female traffic police officer with digital tablet for driving offence

When police officers pull someone over for suspicion of DUI in Virginia, they must provide examples of suspicious behavior. While officers can make a traffic stop for traffic infractions, they don’t have the right to pull someone over without cause. Officers are required to have reasonable, articulable suspicions before making a stop.

If you were arrested for a DUI, and the officer made an invalid stop, you may be able to have your charges dismissed.

Rudolphi Law has extensive experience with Virginia’s DUI laws and can help you determine if the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. We’ll work with you to fight back against the charges you’re facing and achieve a favorable outcome.

Traffic Infractions That Suggest Impairment

When an officer pulls someone over for a suspected DUI, they must be able to explain the reason for the stop. The stop must be reasonable, which means the judgment behind the stop must be sound. 

In addition, these reasons need to be articulable, which means that the officer must be able to explain the reasons in a way that others can understand.

Traffic infractions are one of the most common reasons for DUI stops. Some common reasonable articulable suspicion examples that can also be used as evidence of impairment include:

  • Swerving
  • Driving far below the speed limit
  • Illegal turns
  • Delayed response to or failure to obey traffic signals
  • Drifting between lanes
  • Frequent braking
  • Near collisions with objects or other vehicles

Traffic Infractions That Don’t Suggest Impairment

A stop is considered invalid if it was made without reasonable and articulable suspicion of intoxication or another traffic violation. Even if the stop does not suggest impairment, it may still be a valid reason (eg speeding) that eventually leads to a DUI arrest. The flip side of this is that sometimes, a stop may even be invalid if it’s based on minor infractions. For example, under current law Virginia officers cannot pull someone over for a loud exhaust or because they have objects dangling from their rearview mirror.

While many traffic infractions suggest impairment, other infractions might not hold up in court; thus, your DWI case may be stopped. Examples that don’t meet the criteria for reasonable suspicion include:

Changing Lanes Without a Signal on an Empty Road

While drivers must signal before changing lanes when other vehicles are around, they’re not required to use traffic signals on empty roads where doing so would not affect another motorist. A driver that doesn’t signal on an empty road has not committed a traffic violation, which means any stops are invalid.

Weaving in a Lane

While weaving in between lanes is a valid reason for suspicion of DUI, that’s not necessarily the case for a driver weaving within a signal lane. Any testimony about a driver weaving is subjective and must meet tests outlined in case law on the topic.

If you believe that the traffic stop that resulted in your DUI charges was potentially invalid, the best thing you can do is work with a Fairfax DUI attorney. The attorney can assess the stop to see if it meets the criteria for reasonable articulable suspicion. If it doesn’t, it may be possible to have your charges reduced or dropped.

Rudolphi Law will look closely at the traffic stop that leads to your arrest and have any invalid evidence against you challenged. To schedule a consultation, call us at (703) 596-9566.