Say that a police officer pulls you over and asks you to do field sobriety tests or take a breath test. Many people believe that they have no other option at this point, so they simply do it. And it is wise to cooperate with the police and not to escalate the situation.
But you may also want to ask the officer why they pulled you over. This can become very important, on the grounds that random traffic stops are illegal. Even if it leads to evidence of illegal activity, that evidence may not be permissible in court if it turns out that the initial stop wasn’t warranted.
For instance, say that the police officer claims you failed the field sobriety tests or that you had a reading on the breath test that was higher than the legal limit. This type of evidence can lead to a conviction and DWI charges. But, if you show that the initial traffic stop should never have happened, this could mean that the evidence was illegally obtained.
The fruit of the poisonous tree
When something like this happens, it can be an example of the fruit of the poisonous tree. This means that evidence obtained through illegal means cannot be legally used in court.
One of the basic tenants of a DWI arrest is that an officer needs to have probable cause for the traffic stop. This can be found in many different ways. Maybe you just had a taillight out. Perhaps you forgot to signal when you changed lanes. You don’t have to have made any major mistakes. There are many small driving mistakes that are enough to trigger a traffic stop.
However, the officer does have to have a reason. They either need to have reasonable suspicion that you were intoxicated or they need to have seen you make a traffic mistake that would warrant a stop even if you were sober. Only then can they proceed with the investigation into whether or not you are impaired.
You can see how complicated even a simple DWI stop can get, so always be sure you know about your legal options.