Since Wednesday, State Patrol has tripled the number of troopers patrolling for drunk drivers in a DUI crackdown. The saturation patrols ended on Sunday, but this should not lead drivers to believe that State Patrol is not regularly patrolling for potential DUI drivers.
In 2012, 563 people were arrested for DUI. If this trend continues, 650 people are expected to be arrested this Thanksgiving holiday. State troopers attribute this increase to increased patrols. Troopers are driving up and down the interstate looking for swerving or other erratic driving indicative of drunk driving.
While troopers may be looking for driving indicative of drunk driving, a trooper can stop a driver for any number of traffic offenses, regardless of whether the driving is indicative of intoxication. For example, while speeding is not generally indicative of intoxication, a trooper can initiate a traffic stop based on speeding and then upon contact with the driver observe indicia of intoxication, such as the odor of alcohol, bloodshot watery eyes and slurred speech, which may provide the trooper with sufficient evidence to ultimately arrest the driver for suspicion of DUI.
However, the trooper must have a legal basis for the initial traffic stop. A trooper cannot stop a driver based on a mere hunch that the driver has committed a traffic offense. If a trooper does not have a legal basis for the initial stop, even if the evidence obtained following the stop shows that the driver was drunk, that evidence may be suppressed, meaning it cannot be used against the driver. Depending on the circumstances, this may result in dismissal of the DUI charge. Because there are certain legal standards that must be met, it is important to have an attorney to analyze the facts and circumstances.