Can a San Francisco DUI Attorney Challenge a Traffic Stop or Arrest?

Posted on August 10, 2015

Police Car

If you’ve been pulled over or arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, a San Francisco DUI attorney can defend your case by showing that the police officer did not have reasonable evidence of a violation. This defense is based on conflicting opinions about which observations meet the standard of reasonable suspicion. When it comes to traffic violations, state determinations and case law differ greatly. A traffic stop might be reasonable or unreasonable depending on the type of violation, who observed it and the nuances of the evidence.

Reporting Violations

Occasionally, violations are reported to police by a third party. However, most drivers are pulled over after an officer observes an error personally. An attorney can challenge such observations using available evidence and decisions that have applied to similar cases.

Determining If a Traffic Stop Was Lawful

Current laws based on Supreme Court decisions and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution say that an officer must have reasonable suspicion of illegal activity before initiating a traffic stop or property search. This means that police officers are not allowed to stop a vehicle for the explicit purpose of screening the driver or checking his or her license and registration. Rules for unreasonable traffic stops were developed after one police officer admitted that he stopped a car because he didn’t have anything to do. This decision was made in 1979 in the case Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 663, and is still used to determine whether a traffic stop was initiated with reasonable suspicion. On the other hand, a traffic stop might be warranted if the officer had reasonable suspicion that you were driving without a license, using an unregistered vehicle or avoiding police due to a previous violation. Nevertheless, the standard of reasonable suspicion is still open to interpretation by San Francisco DUI attorneys, law enforcement agencies, and judges. Defense attorneys have one advantage. They can assess the validity of a traffic stop using all available evidence after the fact. Police officers must make an appropriate judgment in the moment.

Working with an Attorney

By analyzing all of the facts, a San Francisco DUI attorney has several options for showing that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion. If evidence is available, it can be used to challenge the validity of the stop. During drunk driving cases, attorneys frequently admit that the officer had a disadvantage when making a quick determination in the field. Although your attorney might say that the officer acted in good faith, there is no excuse for violating the law by making an unjustified traffic stop. An officer must have reasonable suspicion of a violation before initiating a traffic stop. Otherwise, any findings will be suppressed, and there will be no case against you.

Contact a San Francisco DUI Attorney

An experienced attorney can assess the facts and determine the best way to fight your case based on a lack of reasonable suspicion or with another defense strategy. If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving, call (415) 795-3890 to discuss your case with the San Francisco DUI attorneys at Silveira Law.