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What Happens During a DUI Traffic Stop?

 Posted on April 26,2019 in DUI

Santa Cruz DUI defense attorney traffic stop arrestUnless it occurs at a sobriety checkpoint, a DUI traffic stop is often an unexpected incident for a driver. Getting pulled over can cause anxiety for anyone, but being pulled over for driving under the influence can lead to criminal charges, steep fines, and the loss of driving privileges. For many drivers, an arrest for driving under the influence is the first time they are in trouble with the law, aside from minor traffic tickets or parking violations. When you are pulled on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is important to be prepared for what will happen. 

The Process Followed in a Traffic Stop

When a police officer pulls a driver over, they must have reasonable cause to do so. This means that there must be a reasonable suspicion that a law is being broken. Reasonable causes for pulling over a driver include erratic driving or other traffic violations, such as speeding or running a red light. A traffic stop for a minor violation, such as a missing tail light, could lead to a DUI arrest if the officer suspects the driver is impaired due to drugs or alcohol. 

When asking for a driver’s license and registration, an officer will also take note of their speech and actions. If the officer suspects impairment, they may ask the driver if he or she has been drinking. While cooperation with police is often recommended, these questions are voluntary, and the driver has the right to decline to answer any questions. 

A person who is suspected of driving while under the influence may be asked to perform roadside tests meant to determine whether the driver is intoxicated. These tests are voluntary, and there are two kinds of tests an officer may ask a driver to perform. The first are field sobriety tests, in which an officer will ask the driver to perform simple physical tasks to judge their motor skills, such as walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. The second is a preliminary alcohol screening test, or PAS test, which gives an estimate of how much a driver has had to drink. In most situations, the driver may refuse this “preliminary” test as a matter of right. In some conditions (on probation for a DUI, driver is under 21) the law requires submission. 

If the police officer has reasonable cause to believe that the driver is intoxicated, the driver will be arrested and asked to provide a “chemical test” of either breath or blood. Refusing to take a chemical test can lead to a year or more of license suspension – even if you are under the limit. With a breath test, you will get your results on the spot; blood test results can take 2-4 weeks (the blood is sent to a lab who tests when they have time to do so).  

Contact a Santa Cruz, CA DUI Defense Attorney

If you are arrested for DUI, you have the right to speak to an attorney. An experienced Santa Cruz DUI attorney will examine the individual details of your case and help you develop a defense that will minimize the consequences that you may face. Call our offices at 831-426-5800 for a free consultation. 


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