Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
What you should know regarding the basic steps involved in a DUI stop and whether you can be pulled over by a plainclothes officer. To learn more or begin building your defense, call a Fairfax DUI attorney today.
If a person is stopped for DUI in Fairfax, the first thing an officer will do is come up to the vehicle to speak to the driver. The officer will then likely ask for the individual’s license and registration while also making observations the entire time about the person such as whether their eyes are bloodshot and glassy, and whether they have any trouble getting their license and registration.
If the officer believes that a person is under the influence, they may then ask the person to perform field sobriety tests. The first of which is often going to be the HGN or the horizontal gaze nystagmus, where the officer will be looking for involuntary jerking of the eyes.
Depending on the individual’s performance the officer may then move on to the one-legged stand, where the person has to stand on one foot for a period of time, or the walk and turn test, where someone will be asked to walk a certain number of steps. Additionally, a Fairfax police officer may add another test such as counting forward and backward or saying the alphabet.
The officer then judges the person not only on how they perform the tests, but how they behave as they listen to the instructions, such as whether they sway, false start, or otherwise show behavior indicating intoxication even before a test begins.
The officer then advises the person that he or she is suspected DUI and asks them to blow into a preliminary breath device. If the person does that, the officer uses the results to confirm or dispel their belief that the person is under the influence of alcohol. They either arrest the person, or release them if they don’t think they have probable cause to arrest.
A person should always pull over in a safe location, both for the individual and the officer. It should be as close as possible to the time when the person received the signal to pull over. If they take too long to pull over after they’ve been signaled by Virginia law enforcement, there’s the possibility they might pick up a new charge for eluding. It can be a felony if a person endangers someone else. A person doesn’t want the police officer to think that they are not willing to stop when asked to stop. The person should make sure they pull over in the first safe place, in a safe manner, making sure not to endanger other cars on the road, and deal with the problem.
If there’s no safe place to pull over, then person should pull over in the first safe area. A parking lot is a good place to pull over. If the person absolutely can’t pull over then he or she will just have to wait for the first safe area. If a person pulls over in a location that is not good for the police officer, the officer will direct the person, via megaphone or over the loud speaker of the car, to pull over at another location. The person should always follow police instructions and cooperate with police at this point.
There are a wide variety of things that can take place at a DUI stop depending on why the person was originally stopped and what they are suspected of doing. In some cases the person may be placed under arrest while in others they will be asked to step out of the car to do field sobriety tests. Also at a DUI stop an officer may want to search your car. A Virginia DUI attorney can provide information on what police are and aren’t legally allowed to do during a traffic stop.
With that said, you can almost always expect that the officer is going to ask questions to the driver and likely run their license and registration as well. If there then happen to be an outstanding warrant, or a problem with the individual’s license then they may be placed under arrest.
If someone believes they are being pulled over by a Fairfax police officer, they should pull over immediately. Unmarked police and plainclothes police officers do have the right to pull over a vehicle. If a person believes it’s the police, they should pull over immediately. If they don’t, they can be charged with eluding and that can be a felony offense if a person endangers the life of someone else. If for some reason, a person is not sure if it is a police officer, it’s probably still best to pull over and be ready to call the police if it is not a police officer and the person is being unlawfully stopped.