When Can a Cop Legally Pull You Over?

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. It also marks the beginning of aggressive OWI-enforcement surrounding holiday weekends, with July 4 and Labor Day hot on Memorial Day’s heels.

When pulled over by a police officer or state patrol officer, what are your rights? For that matter, when can they legally pull you over at all?

Is There Reasonable Suspicion of Unlawful Activity?

You have likely heard “reasonable suspicion” or “probable cause.” Officers must have probable cause to pull you over, including reasonable suspicion that you are engaged in unlawful activity such as operating while intoxicated (OWI).

Examples of things that would provide an officer with the legal backing to pull you over include:

  • Swerving across traffic lanes, such as crossing the yellow line
  • Speeding or, conversely, driving too slowly
  • Driving without your headlights on inappropriately engaging high beams
  • Following too closely
  • Frequently applying your brakes

When clearly stated by the officer, any of these reasons can serve as probable cause to pull you over.

What if the answer is no?

A traffic stop unwarranted by reasonable suspicion can be easy pickings for an experienced OWI defense lawyer. Evidence obtained during an unlawful stop can be challenged and barred from being used against you in your OWI case. Charges may be dropped entirely due to a lack of admissible evidence.

Don’t attempt to take on the prosecution alone. Make sure you have a proven defense attorney protecting and asserting your rights if you are pulled over and arrested for OWI in Wisconsin.