In the case of a DUI traffic stop, the officer needs to have a reason to pull the car over prior to doing so. This is to prevent police officers from randomly stopping cars until they find a drunk driver.
That being said, they do not have to have evidence of impairment prior to making that stop. In many cases, officers will pull cars over for completely unrelated reasons, talk to the driver, determine that the driver may be impaired and then give them a breath test. The stop wasn’t intended to be a DUI stop, but it is still legal because there was reason to pull the car over.
The thing to remember about this is that the bar for stopping a vehicle is incredibly low. There’s almost always a reason that a police officer can use to pull you over.
Examples of minor reasons
For instance, police officers could pull you over because you simply have a headlight out. They may simply intend to tell you to get your car fixed so that it adheres to vehicle codes, but that conversation could be all it takes for them to believe you’re impaired and give you a breath test.
Officers can also stop vehicles for very minor traffic infractions. Maybe you almost came to a stop at a stop sign, but you technically rolled through it at the very end. This may not have put anyone in danger or really changed the way that you approached the intersection, but that type of mistake is enough for an officer to stop you if they would like to do so. Other examples include driving slightly over the speed limit, changing lanes without using your turn signal or even not driving immediately when the light turns green. Any driving mistake could lead to a traffic stop.
If this also means that you’re facing serious charges or allegations of impaired driving, be sure you know what legal options you have.