One important factor with drunk driving arrests is that the police need to have a reason for each stop. This is known as having reasonable suspicion. They are not allowed to make random traffic stops, after which they try to find out if the driver is breaking the law. They need a reason for the stop — first.
That said, they do not need to believe that the driver is intoxicated. They may stop them for something entirely unrelated, notice empty bottles in the car, and then proceed with field sobriety tests and other methods for determining impairment. Granted, there are times when police believe a driver is drunk before talking to them, like when the car keeps swerving over the centerline, but they don’t have to believe this to make it a legal stop.
Why is this important?
All of this matters for drunk driving arrests because it really doesn’t take all that much for the police to justify a traffic stop. Maybe you rolled through a stop sign or didn’t quite come to a complete stop. Maybe you were driving a few miles per hour over the limit. Maybe you just had a broken taillight or a sticker on the window that the officer thought impacted your view.
People who are over the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit often try to drive very carefully to avoid detection. But that may not make a difference, as a lot of these errors are so easy to make — and they’re things people do while sober all the time.
If you do wind up getting a DUI, you need to know what legal steps to take.