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McLean DUI Stops

Most of the time, the process of a DUI stop begins with the officer activating their police lights and sirens to signal the driver to pull over and stop their vehicle. The officer will then approach the driver’s vehicle and ask the driver to roll down a window. Based on the officer’s observations such as an odor of alcohol or a driver’s admission to having had something to drink, the officer will then ask the driver to exit the vehicle to participate in field sobriety tests. If the individual chooses to participate in these tests and the officer believes the officer has probable cause based upon the totality of the circumstances, the officer will place the person under arrest for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And, the driver’s vehicle may be impounded if the driver is unable to have another person retrieve the driver’s vehicle.

Read below to learn more about McLean DUI stops. And if you have any questions about your rights during a stop, call an experienced DUI lawyer today.

What do Officers Look for in Drivers Before Pulling Them Over for a Possible DUI?

Officers are trained to observe vehicles in motion when determining if a person should be stopped for a possible DUI. Officers will be looking for any:

  • Moving violations
  • Vehicle equipment violations
  • Expired registration or inspection stickers
  • Driving without headlights
  • Failing to signal
  • Slow responses to traffic signals
  • Strange driving behavior such as weaving, swerving or driving slowly

If an officer observes any of the above, the officer may execute a traffic stop under suspicion of a DUI. An officer must have probable cause before pulling someone over.

Questions an Officer May Ask the Driver

If a person is pulled over under suspicion of a DUI, the person is likely to be asked identification questions and questions designed to divide a person’s attention such as:

  • What day is it?
  • Where are they coming from?
  • Have they had anything to drink?
  • Show the police their license and registration

The officer will be looking for signs like a person’s ignoring a question, failing to provide the requested documentation, or giving non-responsive answers.

Tests at a DUI Stop

During a Mclean DUI stop, the officer may ask the driver to perform a variety of tests to help the officer determine intoxication. Officers are trained to administer tests that are approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There are three NHTSA approved tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test. There are other tests that offices sometimes administer, however, these are not supported by NHTSA by scientific evidence. These other tests include the finger dexterity test, count down test, and alphabet test.

During the HGN test, officers will ask the driver to stand still and follow a stimulus with the driver’s eyes only. The officer will be observing the driver’s eyes for nystagmus – jerking – as the driver tracks the stimulus. During the walk-and-turn test, the driver will be instructed to take nine heel-to-toe steps out on a physical or imaginary line, perform a turn, then take nine heel-to-toe steps back on this line. For the one-leg stand test, a driver will be instructed to stand in one spot, raise a foot of the driver’s choice, and count aloud in a designated manner while looking down at the person’s foot.

Police Search of the Vehicle

If a person is arrested or the officer sees or smells anything suspicious, the officer will want to search the person’s vehicle during a McLean DUI stop. Circumstances under which an officer may search a person’s vehicle without obtaining a search warrant include circumstances that fall under the Plain View Exception. This includes situations in which an officer observes alcohol, drug, or drug paraphernalia in plain view in the driver’s vehicle. Another exception is a Search Incident to Lawful Arrest, which allows an officer to search a person’s vehicle if the person was lawfully arrested after being removed from the person’s vehicle. The Automobile Exception provides another means by which an officer may search a person’s vehicle during a DUI stop.

Generally, a driver does not need to consent to a search of a driver’s vehicle during a traffic stop. If any of the above exceptions applies, an officer may conduct a search of the person’s vehicle.  However, if an exception is not met and the officer does not have a search warrant, the officer will not legally be able to search the person’s vehicle without consent.

What is Implied Consent?

Implied consent is consent to post-arrest testing of one’s blood or breath for drug or alcohol content. Virginia Code §18.2-268.2 provides that any person who operates a motor vehicle upon a highway in Virginia will be deemed to have consented to have samples of the person’s blood, breath, or both blood and breath taken for chemical analysis to determine the alcohol, drug, or both alcohol and drug content of the person’s blood. This applies if the person is arrested for violation of Virginia Code §§ 18.2-266, 18.2-266.1, or 18.2-272(B) or a similar ordinance within three hours of the alleged offense. It is important to note that it is the arrest and not the taking of the sample, which must occur within three hours of the driving or operation of a motor vehicle for the implied consent statute to be applicable.

To learn more about McLean DUI stops and your rights, call an accomplished defense lawyer today.

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