When can Arizona Police Officers Pull You Over?
Getting charged with driving under the influence is pretty stressful and you may lack awareness about the best way to act in such a situation. Still, you have certain rights in the state of Arizona. One of them is knowing that you can’t get pulled over just because Arizona police officers feel something. Reasonable suspicion is a standard police practice valid across the US. It means that a police officer needs to have valid justification in order to pull over a vehicle.
Legitimate Reasons for Getting Pulled over
In order to make an investigative stop, a police officer will need to be certain beyond doubt that a crime is being committed or that the vehicle operator is acting in a way that opposes regulations/laws.
Having a gut feeling that something may be wrong is in no way reasonable suspicion and a reason for getting a driver to pull over.
Speeding is the number one reason for an investigative stop to be made. This is especially true for late evenings or early mornings. If you’re speeding at 2am on Friday night, chances are that you’re coming from the club and that you’ve consumed alcohol. If you exceed the speed limit on the respective road, the police has a legitimate right to pull you over.
A few other legitimate reasons include the following:
- Dangerous driving: if you’re moving from one lane to the other, you’re failing to follow traffic regulations, failures to yield and illegal U-turns are all reasons enough for a police stop. When you’re involved in hazardous driving, you’re increasing the risk for everybody else on the road. In addition, erratic behavior behind the wheel could be indicative of intoxication or drug use.
- Equipment violations: whenever something’s wrong with the car that you’re driving, you can expect to be pulled over. A smashed taillight, headlights that don’t work, excessive window tinting, the lack of a license plate and windshields that are cracked or broken all constitute violations.
- Cell phone use: texting or talking on the phone without the use of a handsfree device will also lead to a police stop.
- Following another vehicle too closely: though this is a form of hazardous driving, it should be examined on its own because of how frequent the violation happens to be. Following another vehicle too closely increases the risk of accidents. The lack of sufficient distance makes it impossible for the driver behind to react in the case of an unexpected situation. If the driver has consumed alcohol, the reaction time will increase even further.
Your Rights during a Traffic Stop
Even if you get pulled over for a legitimate reason, you’re still entitled to your rights.
You have the right to inquire why you were pulled over. Be polite and respectful but show the officer that you know a certain violation should have occurred to trigger the investigative stop.
You also have the legal right to film the encounter with Arizona police officers. Many people opt for this possibility because they worry about their security and about the proper following of procedures. Such a recording could come in handy later on, especially if you’re charged with DUI.
A final thing to remember is that Arizona police officers do not have the right to search your vehicle before getting your explicit permission. The only exception to this rule is probable cause like the smell of marijuana coming from the automobile.
As far as DUIs are concerned, you may be asked to perform a field sobriety test. You have the right to refuse. You have to comply when you get asked to step out of the vehicle. A failure to comply could lead to additional charges. As far as field sobriety tests go, be polite but firm. There’s an interpretative element there and the results of this type of test are very often inaccurate. Experienced criminal defense lawyers will check this aspect thoroughly.
The final thing to know is that you can refuse a breath test but you should be prepared for the consequences. A refusal will lead to the loss of your driving privilege, even if it’s later on found out that you haven’t committed a DUI.