Probable Cause For Vehicle Stops

Conventional wisdom for those operating motor vehicles is that so long as all traffic rules and regulations are being followed, a motorist should be at no risk for police stop.

While for the most part in theory such an assessment is accurate, this thought process is not always correct. For those deciding to take a chance when operating a vehicle after drinking, any misunderstanding as to the rules of traffic stops and apprehension can have significant consequences.

Many among us take the position that we know our own individual tolerances for alcohol and can best be in position to assess our physical coordination and ability to operate a vehicle safely. In this way we each justify the operation of our own motor vehicles based upon our respective beliefs and understanding of our physical abilities and/or restrictions following use of alcohol.

Although such an opinion might be politically incorrect, I simply believe that that there are many of us who after a night of drinking are still more capable of operating a motor vehicle more capably than some among us who are sober.

With that being the case, it is essential for such skilled people to recognize that merely operating a motor vehicle in a capable manner after drinking will not always prove a shield to police stop and ultimate detainment for drunk driving.

As more and more counties throughout the state of Indiana adapt police policies through which to apprehend suspected drunk drivers, the former civil liberties that citizens have come to expect have been significantly eroded.

Most notably, what the driving public must be aware of when driving within Indiana is the legal basis upon which probable cause for the stop and detention of a driver can be initiated. For those driving capably following the ingestion of drugs or alcohol it is critical to take note that you are not immune to a lawful police stop irrespective of no demonstrated physical impairment or commission of a traffic violation based upon the driving activity.

This increased restriction on the civil liberties directed against the driving public in Indiana has come with the increased usage of mobile police checks that “run” license plate checks indiscriminately.

No matter whether the targeted driver has acted in any way suspiciously or demonstrated driving activity that poses a threat to the others around the individual, law enforcement in Indiana can unilaterally decide to seek out ways upon which to stop a vehicle where conventional probable cause is not existent.

Through the usage of such mobile police check practices, driving with a suspended license, expired plates or any other omission that has caused a drivers license to become invalidated has served as a powerful tool upon which traffic cops in Indiana now use to detain properly driven motor vehicles.

Stakeouts where police will run license plate checks within the parking lots of taverns, sporting events or other public assemblies where drinking commonly occurs has unfortunately become increasingly prevalent.

During the course of such police practice do not be surprised to find the vehicle your are driving stopped the moment it hits a public roadway where the traffic patrolmen in question is already on notice as to the deficiency with your driving license or vehicle registration.

Of course at all times police can validly endorse and rationalize practices to track the vehicle identification of a driver based upon individualized suspicion that the motorist in question has been suspected in the ongoing commission of a criminal offense or is wanted for a crime within another jurisdiction.

However, in this new age of elevated political pressure to ensnare potential impaired motorists, this former concept of individualized probable cause to stop based upon demonstrated driving impairment is no longer commonplace in the justification for an Indiana dui arrest.

Despite numerous court appeals that have formerly been initiated to cease or curtail ongoing police practice in the indiscriminate running of license plates to serve as a pretext with which to stop a motorist, our courts of appeal have seen fit to uphold the practice.

The lesson to be learned is as follows; if one feels physically capable of driving following the consumption of alcohol, please take all necessary steps to ensure that your drivers license and/or vehicle registration does not provide a means by which to allow law enforcement to initiate a traffic stop that could ultimately result in your dui prosecution.