Statistically, the police know that it’s more likely for DUI stops to occur at night. They may also be able to identify areas where these stops are most common, such as the local bar and entertainment district.
Using this reasoning, it would make sense that the police would consider making more traffic stops in these areas and at these times. But does that mean that they can simply make a random stop for no reason – other than to check and see if the driver is sober? Could a police officer decide to pull over any car that he or she sees just because of the time of day or where it’s driving?
A reason is still required for the stop
Random stops like this are not permitted, as all traffic stops have to start for some reason for that stop. The accepted standard is reasonable suspicion. The officer may not know for certain that the person did anything wrong, but they are suspicious that a crime may have been committed and they have a reason for it.
For instance, If a driver swerved over the center line, that is plenty of reasonable suspicion for a stop. The police officer may even believe that the driver is impaired and that’s why they left their own lane. But if a driver was doing nothing wrong and was simply driving near a bar or driving after 2:00 in the morning, that alone is not reasonable suspicion to indicate impairment.
All of this can become very important if you get a DUI and you feel like you never should have been stopped. If this does happen to you, be sure you are well aware of your legal options.