Driving Characteristics That May Lead to a Traffic Stop and Sobriety Test

Most people feel uneasy when flashing lights appear in their rear-view mirrors, followed by hope that the lights are meant for someone else. The reality is, however, that most people will be pulled over at least once during their lives.

Questions begin to swirl in drivers' minds as they wait along the side of the road. For example, people often wonder why they are being pulled over, whether they will receive a ticket and if they will be arrested and go to jail.

Traffic Stop Basics and Suspicion of DUI

Answers to these questions generally become clear during the traffic stop, yet it is important for everyone to know their rights when speaking to police. Law enforcement officers must follow certain rules and procedures before, during and after a traffic stop. First and foremost, officers must have a reason - known as probable cause or reasonable suspicion - to pull over your vehicle. For example, police might notice a driver behaving erratically, driving too fast, swerving or going through a stop sign. An equipment violation such as a burned out headlight is sufficient.

If an officer has probable cause/reasonable suspicion to pull you over, he or she might ask you to perform a series of tests to determine if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This usually occurs if an odor of alcohol is present or if you have exhibited certain driving behaviors. However, these tests must be performed properly, and occasionally police make mistakes in administering sobriety tests - this is something to be aware of if you are arrested and charged with DUI.

Next, a chemical test is usually conducted to determine your blood alcohol content. Regardless of whether the driver is impaired, a chemical-test refusal triggers Pennsylvania's implied consent law, and you can lose your driving privileges for up to one year just for refusing the test, even if you might be found "not guilty" in a subsequent trial. Also, in Pennsylvania, there is no right to speak to an attorney before submitting to a test of breath, blood or urine.

It is important that you are courteous and respectful of the officer throughout the process. The officer is performing his or her duties and your behavior can be a factor in plea negotiations or the final outcome of your case.

Obtaining Legal Representation

Traffic stops that result in DUI charges mean that a person faces losing his or her driver's license, paying hefty fines, attending mandatory alcohol treatment courses and even spending time in jail. Anyone charged with DUI should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss his or her rights, legal options and what to expect throughout the criminal process.