The police are certainly on the lookout for drunk drivers, and they may even know where many of these drivers will be located. In many cities, there are well-known bar districts or areas where nightlife is simply more common. There are also restaurant districts where people may have wine or mixed drinks with their meals. These areas, naturally, are going to have a higher percentage of impaired drivers.
So why is it that a police officer doesn’t just park outside of a bar and pull over every car that leaves the bar? The officer knows that the person was likely drinking and is now driving. Wouldn’t this be an easy way to make arrests?
They still need a reason for the traffic stop
It is true that police officers will sometimes frequent these districts, but they cannot just pull over everyone who leaves the bar, as suggested above. This is because every traffic stop has to have a reason. The officer has to show that stopping the vehicle was necessary, and this must happen before that driver does field sobriety tests or takes a breath test.
For example, if a driver left the bar and rolled through a stop sign, that would likely be enough for the officer to be justified in making the stop. They may then smell alcohol on the person’s breath, see that the driver has bloodshot eyes or administer the aforementioned tests.
But if the person gets in their car and doesn’t make any traffic mistakes as they leave the bar, the officer would be violating their rights if they pulled them over anyway. Simply being at a drinking establishment is not reason for a traffic stop. In many cases, evidence that is gathered illegally cannot be used in court. That’s why it’s so important for those who are facing charges to understand exactly what legal options they have.