When is a Traffic Stop Invalid?


Law enforcement officers do not have the right to simply pull any driver over for any reason at all. Limitations on legal traffic stops exist because a traffic stop is considered to be “seizure” of your person for the purposes of your rights under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Because of our protections against unreasonable search and seizure, law enforcement must have at least a “reasonable suspicion” that a law had been violated in order to legally pull you over and examine the possible violation further.

Common reasons for DUI stops

Many traffic stops that result in an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) may not have originated from such suspicions of DUI. In fact, there are many other reasons that police officers may cite as their reasonable suspicion of a violation. These often include: 

  • Having a headlight or taillight out;
  • Speeding;
  • Driving too slowly;
  • Otherwise erratic driving;
  • Having expired license plates; or
  • Not stopping completely at a stop sign or other signal. 

Invalid stops are more common than you may think

In too many situations, police may pull a driver over in spite of having no specific reason to do so. For example, if a police officer is near a popular area with bars or clubs, he or she may become suspicious of drivers leaving parking lots. Even if the driver does not violate any traffic laws, an officer may choose to stop a vehicle based on a hunch that the driver has been drinking. Such a hunch, however, is not enough to warrant a valid traffic stop since the officer’s reasoning for the stop must rise to the level of reasonable suspicion. Even if you believe that an officer had no valid reason to pull you over, the traffic stop still may result in an arrest for DUI, which is in violation of your rights.

Using an invalid traffic stop as part of your DUI defense

If a traffic stop is illegal, the evidence that resulted from that traffic stop should be kept out of court. In cases of DUI arrests with no reasonable suspicion prior to the stop, this generally results in the complete dismissal of the DUI case. Even if the officer tries to claim he had a reasonable suspicion for the stop, a defense attorney should be able to identify when such suspicions are tenuous and can challenge the reasonableness of the suspicion in court. These are only a few ways that invalid traffic stops can lead to the dismissal of DUI charges.

Contact an experienced Denver DUI defense lawyer to discuss your case today

Whether or not you believe your traffic stop was valid, you should always contact an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible if you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI in or around the Denver area. At the Tiftickjian Law Firm, we understand how to challenge the validity of traffic stops as part of your defense and how to uphold your constitutional rights. Please call for help today at 303-DUI-5280.

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