How do police build a DUI case during a Virginia traffic stop?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2023 | Drunk driving

Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are embarrassing and expensive. Anyone who gets pulled over on suspicion of impairment or arrested after a crash could lose their license, pay sizable fines and potentially serve a sentence in state custody.

Those who have been pulled over by the police want to avoid giving them the inaccurate idea that they may be under the influence of alcohol. Officers may rush to the wrong conclusion given the right circumstances. If people understand how officers start building a criminal case during a traffic stop, they may better handle their next interaction with the law enforcement professional.

They ask specific questions

Officers will ask people about what they have done recently and about how much they have had to drink. These leading questions can prompt people into admitting that they have consumed alcohol immediately. They might also lie, which would likely justify an officer’s decision to evaluate the situation more carefully. Some people won’t lie about consuming alcohol, but they will misrepresent how much they have had. Both oversharing and lying can get people into trouble when answering questions during a traffic stop.

They may ask to perform field sobriety tests

If an officer believes because of someone’s answers or their behavior during a conversation that the individual may have had too much to drink, they will ask someone to exit their vehicle and perform several field sobriety tests. The point of these tests is to gauge someone for visible signs of intoxication. If someone fails field sobriety tests, then an officer will be in a position to request a chemical breath test. Someone who has displayed impairment in their behavior during those tests could face arrest regardless of their chemical state.

They will seek to affirm suspicions with chemical testing

Once an officer has probable cause to believe someone is under the influence, then they will ask someone to perform a chemical breath test. If someone is over the legal limit, they will likely get arrested immediately. Testing is also typically requested at the scene of collisions, and someone who is over the legal limit could end up arrested even if they don’t display other signs of impairment.

Not every DUI case will feature all three elements including an admission of consuming alcohol, poor performance on a field sobriety test and a chemical test result over the legal limit. Even in cases with all of that evidence, there may still be options for someone who wants to fight the charges they’re facing because they know they were not drunk or they suspect that their rights were violated during the stop that led to their arrest. Seeking legal guidance can help someone to better determine their options for a defense strategy after a recent DUI arrest.