Did you know that Virginia has the third largest state-maintained highway system in the United States? With more than 57,000 miles of roadway, it’d be unrealistic to expect that any single driver knows every mile. It’s because of this fact that a majority of drivers drive slower than normal in areas they are less familiar with. But can driving slowly in an area actually lead to a traffic stop? Let’s take a look.
Except for sobriety checkpoints, police officers in Virginia need reasonable suspicion in order to pull a driver over. Reasonable suspicion, as defined by most legal dictionaries, requires “justifiable suspicion that is based on specific facts or circumstances.” Because driving slowly could indicate intoxication, an officer may cite this as grounds for a traffic stop and reason to conduct a preliminary investigation.
It’s important to note, however, that simply driving slower than the speed limit does not always indicate intoxication. As we mentioned above, driving slowly could indicate unfamiliarity with an area. If an officer does pull a driver over in Virginia for driving slowly because they suspect drunk driving, then the officer should have other reasons for asking the driver to submit to a breath test, such as slurred speech or smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath, just to name a few.
As our more frequent readers will tell you though, some officers may not meet this standard. They may pull someone over based on a hunch, which is not allowed by the standard of law. When this occurs, an officer risks violating a driver’s rights, which can lead to litigation down the road. In cases such as this, defendants are encouraged to seek legal representation so as to better prove the misstep in police procedure.
Sources: FindLaw, “What is Reasonable Suspicion for a DUI Stop?” Accessed Oct. 5, 2015
FindLaw, “Reasonable Suspicion,” Accessed Oct. 5, 2015
The Virginia Department of Transportation, “Virginia’s Highway System,” Accessed Oct. 5, 2015