Illinois laws do not look kindly on drunk driving offenses, and the penalties these charges can bring have the potential to change your life. If you are facing a DUI, it is in your interests to take your case seriously and begin pursuing your defense options. This is important whether this is your first offense or you have previous DUI convictions on your record.
One of the first steps in this process is to carefully evaluate your interactions with law enforcement, including the initial DUI traffic stop. Officers must have a valid reason to stop a driver, called reasonable suspicion. Without it, a traffic stop is invalid, and it could invalidate the entire case against you. Evaluating this aspect of your case first can determine how to move forward in developing an effective defense strategy.
The actions that cause reasonable suspicion
Law enforcement cannot simply decide to pull someone over because they feel like it. Each American driver has rights, including protection against unreasonable stops and questioning by law enforcement. While you do have rights, police do have extensive authority to determine if a driver is displaying questionable behavior. Some things that can give a police officer reasonable suspicion and grounds to make a traffic stop include:
- Swerving from lane to lane
- Braking erratically and for no reason
- Starting and stopping
- Hitting or coming close to hitting stationary objects on the side of the road
- Making illegal turns
- Drifting in the road
- Straddling the center line
Police may see these things and determine it is possible the driver is committing a crime by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even after pulling a driver over, there are certain protocols regarding how they can interact with a suspected drunk driver.
After an arrest
Facing DUI charges does not guarantee a conviction. With the right defense strategy, it is possible to effectively confront these charges, preserve your future interests and protect your right to drive. Before you make any important decisions that could affect your criminal record or your long-term freedom and opportunities, you would be wise to speak with an experienced defense attorney about your options.
An assessment of your case by a trained legal professional could reveal problems with your initial DUI traffic stop or a violation of your personal rights by the law enforcement officers.