Few things may send your heart racing, like seeing the flashing lights of a police car in your rearview mirror. Your brain may race to try and determine what it is you did to raise the suspicion of the police.
There are several circumstances where the police may pull you over, but the law is clear that one thing remains consistent: They must have a reason for stopping you. Discover more about this legal standard and what you can do should it not apply to your stop.
What is probable cause?
The police do not have the authority to pull people over without merit. Doing so is against your civil rights and a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. Probable cause means the police either saw you commit a crime or have a reasonable suspicion that you have. For example, if a car matching yours drives away from a robbery, the police may stop you legally, believing you are the same driver.
What about a DUI stop?
Once the police pull you over and state the reason, the officer may start investigating whether you are intoxicated. A DUI stop may come about as a result of the officer’s observation of the way you conduct yourself during the stop. For instance, if an officer pulls you over because you ran a stop sign, and during your conversation, he or she believes you smell like alcohol, or you have an empty container in your cupholder, the stop may become something else entirely.
Beginning a roadside stop one way and ending it another does happen. However, if you believe the initial reason the police pulled you over was not legal, you may want to ask for help in proving it.