Montgomery County DUI Stop Process
If law enforcement notices a driver behaving erratically, they may perform a traffic stop to address questions about a possible DUI. If, during a stop, they smell an odor of alcohol or observe other clues like slurred speech or bloodshot eyes that might indicate that the driver has been consuming alcohol, the officer may then make an arrest.
If you have questions about the legality of a Montgomery County DUI stop, including concerns about a potential constitutional violation, you may wish to speak with a criminal defense attorney. A well-versed lawyer might help by explaining your rights and discussing how you can proceed.
How a DUI Stop Works
Before pulling a driver over on suspicion of DUI, a police officer will usually spot some kind of a traffic violation. Legally, law enforcement must have a basis to stop the vehicle other than a simple suspicion.
The general step-by-step process for a DUI stop would include an officer stopping a person by turning on their lights or sirens, approaching the vehicle, asking the individual for their license registration, and beginning an inquiry as to whether or not they have consumed alcohol. The officer may also ask questions such as where they are driving from and what their destination is, trying to get a sense of whether the person has consumed alcohol at a bar or restaurant. Additionally, the officer may ask the driver to step out of the vehicle to perform a standardized field sobriety test, as well as a preliminary breathalyzer test.
Questions During a Stop
The kind of questions an officer would ask include if the person has been drinking, how much did they have to drink, what did they drink, what is the timeline of their alcohol consumption, where are they are driving to and from. The officer is trying to get an understanding not only of whether they consumed alcohol but how coherent they are in responding to those kinds of questions.
Field Sobriety Tests
Tests are a common function of the Montgomery County DUI stop prcoess. There are two different kinds of tests that an officer may have a driver perform during a stop. The first is what is known as a standardized field sobriety test.
Standardized field sobriety tests include a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a test in which the officer has a person follow a stimulus with their eyes. There is also a walk and turn test, in which a person is asked to take several steps in one direction, turn around, and takes several steps back.
The officer may also prompt the driver to perform a one-leg stand, in which the individual raises their foot and balances on it for some time. Standardized field sobriety tests may accompany a preliminary breath test, which is a roadside breathalyzer test that cannot typically be used for guilt or innocence in court but may assist the officer in determining probable cause to place a person under arrest.
Searching a Vehicle
In some Montgomery County DUI stops, the officer may want to search the vehicle if they have a suspicion that there is some criminal contraband within it. Sometimes, that may include searching a vehicle before a person is placed under arrest by asking consent to search for establishing other methods of probable cause. A person might have their vehicle searched after they are placed under arrest by way of a search incident to arrest.
Drivers must understand that they do not need to consent to a search of their vehicle during a traffic stop process. A person is given a choice of whether they do or do not want to have their vehicle searched. It is always the person’s right to refuse a search.
Seek Legal Counsel to Discuss the Montgomery County DUI Stop Process
When an individual is pulled over, it is essential that they understand their rights when dealing with law enforcement. Because of the potentially serious penalties that can result from a charge, having the counsel of an attorney beforehand could be crucial.
A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer could help to explain how each step of the Montgomery County DUI stop process works, and how to proceed with each step. Call today to learn more.