Getting charged with a traffic offense of any sort, including DUIs, requires
that a police officer first stops you. It makes sense to prevent yourself
from being stopped in the first place, and you can help to avoid being
pulled over by taking some proactive steps. Other than if your vehicle
is stopped at a checkpoint, police officers are required to have a reasonable
suspicion to believe you have or are committing an offense of some sort.
The law doesn't allow officers to stop people based on a hunch, instead
holding them to the minimal standard of reasonable suspicion.
People who are pulled over in California are normally stopped for various
violations of the state's traffic laws. The vehicle code outlines
the rules regarding how you conduct yourself while you are driving on
the road as well as how your vehicle must be maintained.
Reasonable suspicion and probable cause
Reasonable suspicion is a minimal standard that was first described in
the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Terry v. Ohio. In that case,
the court held that it is okay for an officer to stop a person absent
probable cause to arrest if he or she has a reasonable suspicion that
the person has committed or is committing an offense. This is what is
required for officers to be able to pull people over. It is a lesser standard
than probable cause to arrest a person. In the context of a DUI stop,
probable cause to arrest may occur after the stop through observations
the officer makes of the driver. Since an officer must have reasonable
suspicion to believe you have committed a traffic or other offense, it
makes sense for you to take steps to prevent any potential stop from happening
in the first place.
Common violations that can lead to a stop
There are many reasons that might lead to a stop. Among the most frequent
are the following. By avoiding them, you may also be able to prevent yourself
from being stopped by the police.
1. Burned out lights
Make sure that you promptly replace any bulbs on your vehicle when they
burn out. This includes your taillights, headlights, turn signals and
the light that illuminates your license plate in the back of your car.
When you have lights that are burned out, an officer may decide to stop you.
2. Dark-tinted windows
The Vehicle Code prohibits tint that is too dark. To avoid getting pulled
over for this, don't apply after-market dark tint film. You can't
have this installed on your driver's side or passenger's side
windows, or on your windshield.
3. Don't talk or text on your cell phone while driving
Refrain from talking or texting on your cell phone while you drive, including
using hands-free features. Talking and texting on your phone is prohibited
in California while you drive. While using a hands-free cell phone to
talk is only illegal for drivers under age 18, you may end up swerving
or committing other traffic violations when your attention is distracted
away from the business of driving.
4. Don't litter
Don't throw things out the window while you drive. This is both bad
for the environment and may also be used as a reason to stop you. Even
tossing out a cigarette butt or ashing out the window while you drive
is a code violation and a sufficient reason for an officer to pull you over.
5. Display a license plate on the front and back of your car
Make sure you have plates attached to both the front and back of your vehicle.
If you don't have holes on the front of your car for a plate, have
them drilled so you can attach your plate. Otherwise, you might find yourself
stopped by a police officer.
6. Keep your registration up-to-date
Don't let the registration on your vehicle expire. Having expired tags
is a quick way to get pulled over.
7. Don't obstruct your vision
Dangling objects from your rearview mirror or not fixing cracks in your
windshield can get you pulled over. You also need to make certain that
any GPS device you use is mounted in the far lower-right area of your
windshield within seven inches or in the lower-left within five inches.
Call an experienced criminal defense DUI lawyer
If you are pulled over and charged with driving under the influence, you
should get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. When you
come to Riverside, San Bernadino and Orange County's leading DUI defense
law firm of Scott D. Henry, you'll find yourself with a highly qualified
and skilled attorney who will work hard for you. To schedule a time to
speak with a lawyer, call us today.