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Unlawful traffic stops: what are they and how do they affect a DWI charge?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2023 | Drunk Driving |

U.S. citizens know that they have rights to protect and that authorities cannot violate them. However, many people do not really know what exactly constitutes a violation. For instance, unlawful traffic stops violate people’s rights against unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. But what exactly makes a traffic stop unlawful?

This and that: qualifying what makes a traffic stop unlawful

The law authorizes police officers to stop a car if they reasonably believe the driver has committed at least a minor traffic offense. This error could be speeding or tailgating, among others. Moreover, a law enforcement officer can pull a driver over and search their vehicle if they have probable cause that they were driving while intoxicated (DWI).

Accordingly, if an officer stops a vehicle without that reasonable suspicion or probable cause, they are performing an unlawful traffic stop. Police officers cannot pull you over based on profiling or just because.

An unjustified stop can tear down a DWI case

How does an unlawful stop affect a DWI case? The lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop a vehicle could be a ground to dismiss the DWI evidence or even drop the charge. While the court will also consider other factors and circumstances, an unconstitutional traffic stop can hold significant weight in a DWI case.

Every detail is vital

Even without a conviction, a DWI charge can adversely affect relationships, occupations, opportunities and overall reputation. This is why it is important for the accused to look back at the details of the traffic stop and relay what they can remember to their attorney, especially if they recall behavior that seems unlawful. This way, the attorney can gather the necessary evidence and create a convincing case in court.