Driving under the influence is a crime, and most people understand that driving while impaired can lead to serious accidents and injuries. That being said, there are plenty of people who go out and have a single drink or who go to bars as sober drivers—these individuals aren’t likely to cause a crash or be legally intoxicated.
Those who are stopped by the police after being at a bar may be frustrated if they saw the cop hanging out around the parking lot, but it is legal for them to do so. What isn’t legal is for an officer to pull you over or stop you without any reason.
Officers can stay at the bar, but they need a reason to stop you
A police officer who is driving around a bar’s parking lot can’t stop you just because you left a bar, got in your vehicle and turned it on. The officer can’t ask you to do field sobriety tests before you get into your car or arrest you for a crime that hasn’t yet been committed.
Can an officer stop you if you haven’t made a driving error?
No. Officers must have probable cause to stop you when you’re driving. For example, if they follow you from the bar and you are weaving all over the road, they’d have a legal reason to stop you. On the other hand, if they follow you and you are driving under the speed limit and safely in your lane, they cannot stop you on suspicion of a DUI just because you were at the bar.
Is an officer following you out of a bar entrapping you?
Not usually. Entrapment would require an officer to encourage you to drink, for example, and then need them to follow and arrest you. Simply monitoring you generally doesn’t mean they’re entrapping you.
These are some things to know about police and going to bars. If you’re going to go out, consider using a ridesharing service or having a sober driver take you home to avoid problems with the police. If you are stopped, remember that you have a right to stay quiet and avoid saying anything that could hurt your case.