The Pretext Stop
The legal standard for detaining an individual while driving is that the police officer must have had an articulable and reasonable suspicion of some violation of law. This is a lower standard than the probable cause necessary for an arrest.
A pretext stop occurs where the police officer uses the “articulable and reasonable suspicion” as an excuse for pulling you over, but that is not the actual motive. The actual motive is often to make a DUI stop. Two common driving issues an Orange County DUI lawyer sees in pretext stops are weaving and driving too slowly.
Weaving Across Traffic Lanes or Within One Lane
There are inconsistent findings by courts in different jurisdictions as to what facts and circumstances will permit a police officer to stop a vehicle he or she observes to be “weaving.” Typically, weaving occurs across traffic lanes, and some courts have found that a driver doing so multiple times gives police sufficient justification for a stop. Yet, other courts have found no such justification and have relied on factors such as how fast the vehicle was going, the volume of traffic on the road, and how far the vehicle veered across the traffic line or how much within its own lane did it weave. Those courts seem to be weighing the potential for an accident under the specific circumstances, rather than relying solely on the weaving.
Driving Too Slowly
As with weaving, cases involving driving too slowly have resulted in varied results. In complete contrast, one court found a stop permissible on an interstate highway because the driver was driving so slowly that it was a safety hazard, while another court found a stop impermissible where a vehicle was traveling at half the posted speed in 55 MPH zone.
One area where your Orange County DUI lawyer may be able to attack the case against you if there is no specific minimum speed limit for the road you were driving on. If not, some courts have found there may be no legal basis for the stop.
Another issue in driving too slowly may be if you are stopped at a traffic signal. A lapse in time between when you are permitted to proceed and when you actually begin driving may lead to a police stop. Once again, the courts have not agreed upon how long a delay (in seconds) will permit a legal stop.
A consultation with experienced Orange County DUI lawyer Mike Coffey will help you best understand pretext stops. Simply fill out the form on this page to schedule a free initial consultation.