Police Search After Traffic Stop

When Police Officer does a traffic stop, what does the police officer search for?

The Police Officer’s duties to search for clues to aid him make the determination whether the suspect is drunk. These clues are referenced from the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTA). The NHTA has a training reference which police officers use to follow when it comes to stop concerning alcohol use while driving. Some of the clues are the following:

  1. Driving a vehicle in the night with the headlights deactivated
  2. Providing driving signals that does not correspond with the course of the vehicle’s direction
  3. Traveling and braking the vehicle erratically or with no reason
  4. When driving being close to other vehicles
  5. Driving too fast or too slow (shows suspicious activity)
  6. Erratic driving such as excessive swerving or weaving in different lanes
  7. Hitting items on the road
  8. Stopping in the middle of the road with no apparent reason
  9. Crossing the double yellow lane several times
  10. Making an inappropriate turn

When making a stop, the police officer is searching for evidence of drunk driving. A police officer engages a driver in order to smell alcohol on the driver or in the driver’s vehicle as well as that driver’s speech pattern. The police officer will record the driver’s appearance and his presentation of his vehicle. They will also record if there are any open containers and any odor of alcohol in the vehicle.

The driver has rights not to incriminate himself. It is critical that the driver is nice and courteous to the police officer. If the driver decides not to respond to the officer’s questions or be part of the alcohol test as the officer has requested, the driver should nicely let the officer know what he decides to do and permits the officer to decide how he wants to move forward. The officer may place the driver under arrest and drive the driver to their station, so the officer can perform the breathalyzer test. This test is to see how much alcohol on the person’s breath. The driver will blow into a device and the device will render how much alcohol content if any on the person’s breath. If the test shows the driver tested positive for alcohol use, that test will be used against the driver in court.

If the police officer asks the driver to take the breathalyzer test, Maryland law makes it mandatory for a suspect to be tested. However, this should not be confused with a preliminary breath tested which is provided in the field and not mandatory by Maryland law. A driver if he or she chooses to refuse to take the test and can face administrative penalties with losses of use of their licenses for a period of time. A driver can perform an administrative hearing when stopped for a violation dealing with the use of alcohol. The administrative request should be filed timely in order to heard before your license becomes suspended.

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