Tennessee drivers may be interested in knowing when a police officer may pull someone over for suspicion of drunk driving. In order to pull over a motor vehicle, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that an illegal act is occurring.
There are various reasons a police officer may decide to stop a motorist who is suspected of driving impaired. The driver may be driving erratically, straddling the centerline, drifting between lanes, not using a turn signal, nearly hitting other motorists, or even very small driving infractions. A driver who is pulled over for an infraction such as making a wrongful turn, having a light on the vehicle out or missing a traffic stop may also be subject to examination for drunk driving if the officer thinks it is warranted.
Reasonable suspicion is different than probable cause, a higher standard that an officer must establish before making an arrest. Under probable cause, an officer must have enough evidence to show that the driver has committed the crime of driving drunk. Probable cause may be supported by the administration of tests to support the suspicion of drunk driving. This might include a Breathalyzer test and or field test for sobriety.
An individual charged with drunk driving may lose their driver’s license or face a fine or jail time. An attorney may be able to assist the individual in determining if there was a proper basis for the stop, if the elements of the offense are met, if there are challenges to the breath or blood tests, and to advise an individual regarding potential penalties and how best to defend oneself against a drunk driving charge.