Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year’s holiday season are a festive time filled with parties and socializing. During this time, police officers and State Troopers across the nation will be on the alert for impaired drivers. One of the tools that law enforcement officers use to detect impaired drivers are “pretextual” stops. Other than not drinking and driving at all, avoiding pretextual stops is one of the best ways to maintain a DUI-free holiday.
“Pretextual” stops are stops where a secondary reason or motive is used by the police officer to hide their actual reason for pulling you over. In the context of a DUI investigation, a police officer might pull someone over for a burned out headlight while the real reason for pulling the person over is to see if they are driving under the influence.
Because DUIs can be difficult to detect, pretextual DUI stops are common in many areas across the country. Therefore, law enforcement officers are trained to look for any lawful reason to stop a vehicle such as a malfunctioning taillight or a cracked window. Police officers then use the taillight as a “pretext” to give themselves the chance to stop your vehicle and look for signs of possible driver impairment.
To protect yourself from pretextual stops, you should take note and follow these useful suggestions:
1. Keep your vehicle well-maintained and regularly check your vehicle’s headlights, turn lamps, brake lamps and other lighting to make sure everything is working properly. As part of your routine maintenance, you should also check your tire pressure regularly.
2. Avoid aftermarket window tint as they tend to raise an officer’s suspicion.
3. Make sure your license plate is lit and cleared of snow and debris that may be obscuring the license plate.
4. Avoid drawing attention to yourself. Police officers are trained to spot activities that are unusual such as playing excessively loud music, swerving, or otherwise driving erratically.
5. If possible, avoid driving at night.
If you are faced with the unfortunate situation of having been charged with a DUI/DWI or OUI, you should contact a criminal defense attorney. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions can adversely affect employment applications and result in substance abuse treatment. It is best to talk to a criminal defense lawyer so that you know what your options are. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help minimize the penalties you may be facing.