Police departments are charged with keeping the roads safe. In New Hampshire, they face a unique challenge because of the upheaval of the laws surrounding sobriety checkpoints. In this state, these checkpoints have to be approved by the court, announced in advance, and conducting in compliance with the established and approved procedures.
In February of this year, the New Hampshire House moved a ban on these checkpoints forward. While it is still possible for police to conduct checkpoints, it looks like they will soon be a thing of the past. This means that police officers will have to rely heavily on observations in order to find drunk drivers.
Signs of a drunk driver
There are many things that will indicate that a person is drunk. The officer might notice that the person is swerving in and out of lanes or straddling the center line. People who are intoxicated could drive much too fast for conditions or far too slowly. They might not follow traffic signs or signals and may stop in the middle of the road without reason. Sometimes, people who are impaired won’t turn their vehicle’s lights on even if it is dark outside.
Reasonable suspicion for a stop
Police officers must have reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop. Seeing behavior that indicates drunk driving meets this criteria. Reasonable suspicion simply means that the officer sees something that could possibly indicate that a law is being broken. The behavior doesn’t have to blatantly prove that a crime was committed in order for the cop to conduct a traffic stop. The officer might conduct a limited investigation at this point to determine what is going on. This can include a breath test or a field sobriety test determine if the driver is impaired.
Probable cause for an arrest
The legal criteria for an arrest is higher than for a traffic stop. The officer must have probable cause to arrest you, which means evidence that highly suggests that you were driving drunk. If there isn’t probable cause, you shouldn’t be arrested.
These are all important points that can come into the picture when you are building a drunk driving defense. Try to remember everything that happened when you build your strategy.