Random Police Pull-Overs: They Are Illegal in Arizona!

Getting pulled over by police officers in Arizona is going to be nerve-wracking for most drivers, even if they haven’t done anything wrong. Anxiousness and worries interfere with the sound judgment of the situation and many people forget about their rights during random police pull-overs.

In Arizona, police officers do not have the right to randomly pull drivers over. Certain procedures will have to be followed for the stop to be considered lawful.

Arizona Regulations about Getting Pulled Over

To conduct a lawful stop, police officers should have a reasonable suspicion that the driver has violated the law. The manner in which this regulation is interpreted will be very important. Often, a very small traffic violation will be perceived as reasonable suspicion, providing law enforcement professionals to stop the driver and check their documents.

A few scenarios are more common than others and these will provide Arizona police with reasonable suspicion:

  • Traffic violations; speeding, swerving from lane to lane and an inability to follow traffic signs will all provide police officers with reasons enough for random police pull-overs. Once they do, they will observe for signs of intoxication like slurred speech and the smell of alcohol in the car.
  • A traffic accident: anyone who is involved in a collision will have to wait for the police to arrive to the venue. This is especially true for crashes that cause property damage, injuries or death. Very often, accidents will be caused by impaired drivers and this is something that law enforcement professionals will check for.
  • Problems with the vehicle: a broken tail light, for example, can provide police officers with reasonable suspicion to pull the driver over.

In addition, a few reasons for pulling a driver over will fall in the grey area. Such situations rise some suspicion but they may be challenged in court by an experienced Arizona DUI lawyer. Such reasons include window tinting that’s perceived as too dark by the police officer, driving under the speed limit and having an object hanging over the mirror (this would be considered a cause of vision impairment).

When Is a Police Stop Illegal?

The absence of reasonable suspicion will contribute to an illegal DUI stop.

random police pull-oversA stop should be justified by reasonable suspicion and an arrest come due to probable cause. When these are missing, the actions of law enforcement professionals can be challenged in court.

The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution protects all citizens against unlawful searches and seizures. Thus, Arizona police cannot conduct a random stop (there is only one exception that will be discussed in the next section).

A violation of the Fourth Amendment will render evidence collected during the stop illegal. As a result, the case will most probably get dismissed.

Arizona DUI Checkpoints

The only exception to the regulations mentioned so far comes in the form of the Arizona DUI checkpoint.

DUI checkpoints are lawful in Arizona. In this case, police officers have the right to pull drivers over without reasonable suspicion. A DUI checkpoint, however, has to function following a certain logic. Police officers will have to come up with a pattern for pulling drivers over. They could, for example, pull over every third or fourth car. The logic should be followed consistently.

DUI checkpoints have to be approved and announced via a popular means of communication before they occur. They cannot be random police pull-overs.

The Arizona DUI checkpoints are an exception from the Fourth Amendment provisions. The reason is simple – the consequences of drunk driving are considered to be much more serious than the need of US citizens to get protection against unlawful searches and seizures.