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Virginia DUI Stops

Virginia DUI stops by law enforcement officers are important to know about because there is a difference between probably what an officer is supposed to look for, what they are trained to look for, what they do look for.

If a person is committing any traffic infraction or there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is committing any traffic infraction, law enforcement is going to pull the person over to check and see if they have a DUI or if they are a DUI suspect. If it is after a certain time of night or in other certain conditions, an officer can look for any reason to pull a person over. In the state of Virginia, anything that leads to reasonable suspicion of a traffic infraction can influence law enforcement to pull a person over. A skilled Virginia DUI attorney has more answers surrounding traffic stops relating to DUIs.

Indicators for Impairment

Beyond the reasonable suspicion for a traffic infraction or beyond seeing a traffic infraction, an officer will look for certain indicators of impairment. One of those things is slowing down suspiciously or speeding up and slowing down. Speeding up and switching lanes without using a turn signal, weaving in and out of lanes, and backing up in a highway for an exit are also common indicators of impairment that would lead to a Virginia DUI stop.

Virginia DUI Vehicle Stops

Once an officer has the person’s vehicle stopped, they are going to look for evidence that they can use to support their assessment of probable cause for a DUI arrest. Law enforcement will try to compel the person to give a breath sample at the station.

There are different phases of a Virginia DUI stop. First, is what is called Phase 1, or the vehicle-in-motion phase. Law enforcement takes vehicle-in-motion into consideration as well when determining probable cause. Afterwards, the officer assesses whether or not the person has reasonable suspicion of a traffic infraction or reasonable suspicion that some other type of crime is occurring, which in this case would be a DUI.

Traffic Infractions

If a person has a traffic infraction, an officer will pull the person over and then proceed from there. If a person does not have a traffic infraction, officers look at the person’s driving behavior and try to determine whether the driving was erratic enough that it would allow an officer to stop the person and ask them further questions. Questions surrounding equipment violation, expired registration or inspection stickers, or the person’s driving behavior, are standard questions that are asked in a Virginia DUI stop.

At that point, they will talk to the person, take a look at them, and observe them. This is the second phase, which is determining if they have probable cause to arrest the person or to pull them out or to further test them.


An officer will look at the person’s reactions to determine the level of their intoxication. Do they have slurred reactions? Do they have impaired vision? Do they have poor coordination? Do they have poor motor skills? Do they have trouble focusing their eyes on the officer? These are common questions that law enforcement will use to gauge a person’s alcohol intoxication levels.


As an officer is observing the person, they will assess whether or not the person can talk outside of the car and whether or not the person would like to do field sobriety tests. If they agree to the sobriety tests, the officer will observe what they are like throughout the process.

They will continue to look for probable cause to arrest the person. Probable causes include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Fumbling with items
  • Alcohol containers in the car
  • Drugs or drug paraphernalia
  • Saying unusual things
  • Belligerence
  • Alcohol odor

Consult with a Virginia DUI attorney for more on Virginia DUI stops.

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