Do Arizona Police have the Right to Stop Drivers Randomly?

Is it permissible for police in Arizona to stop drivers and conduct checks even when suspicious activity is not detected? The answer is yes, under certain circumstances, Arizona police have the right to stop drivers randomly. Arizona police can set DUI checkpoints and pull drivers over even without probable cause. Here are the instances in which such regulations apply.

DUI Checkpoints

The so-called DUI checkpoints can be set up at random locations, giving police officers the right to stop drivers randomly and test them for alcohol use. According to the US Supreme Court, such inspections are permissible due to the fact that drunk driving poses way more serious dangers than police inspections without probable cause.

Because of this court ruling, DUI checkpoints have been labeled an exception from search and seizure provisions as these are listed in the constitution.

There have been protests against sobriety checkpoints in relationship to the constitutional rights of US citizens. While there isn’t much to be done about this Arizona regulation, there are still a few rules that police officers have to abide by in order to make the inspection legal.

All DUI checkpoints have to be approved by the department of transportation. In addition, there has to be public information about these. Police officers are also banned from stopping vehicles randomly. They need to come up with a methodology and follow through with it. A potential methodology could be stopping every third vehicle, for example.

What are Unlawful Stops

right to stop drivers randomlyWhile DUI checkpoints are an exception from the general regulation, police officers need to follow a couple of important rules whenever they’re about to pull a vehicle over and perform an inspection.

The most common causes of lawful police stops include speeding, running a red light or an expired registration. While these are clear, there are numerous other ambiguous situations that make it difficult to determine whether the stop has been legal or not.

For example, an officer in Arizona may decide to pull a driver over because of window tinting that’s deemed to be too dark, drifting within the lane, driving under the speed limit or a vision impediment that could stem from an object protruding from the window. As you can see, these conditions allow room for some interpretation and make it difficult to determine whether the stop has been justified.

Depending on the situation, it’s possible for the stop to be deemed illegal. Thus, anyone who gets pulled over by police officers will need to see an experienced attorney. A lawyer will be capable of determining whether the police officer had the right to stop drivers randomly or whether the officer exceeded their authority.

Dos and Don’ts When You Get Pulled Over

Whether you get pulled over at a DUI checkpoint or a police officer has determined there’s probable cause for an inspection, you will need to follow a couple of simple steps.

The most important thing is to remain calm and polite. Usually, you will be asked to present documents – your license and the vehicle’s registration. This is a lawful request and you should cooperate with police officers.

Whenever you’re asked to step out of the vehicle, you have to comply. Depending on the situation, a failure to comply may result in an additional charge and a messy situation that you probably want to avoid.

If you are asked to do a field sobriety test, you have the right to refuse. In fact, most criminal defense attorneys advise their clients to politely refuse a standard field sobriety test (FST). There’s one simple reason – FSTs can be inaccurate. There’s also some bias due to the fact that police officers provide instructions and administer the test. Any simple mistake could potentially impact the outcome.

A driver that’s asked to participate in a breath test is also entitled to a refusal. In this instance, however, there could be civil consequences. A refusal may result in the loss of driving privileges, even when a driver is not impaired.