Can the police just wait outside of a bar to look for drunk drivers?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2021 | DUI |

If police officers want to arrest drunk drivers, one might wonder why they do not simply wait outside of local bars for people to head home. Would it be legal for them to do so? 

Technically, yes, the police can wait outside of bars, clubs and other entertainment venues as they hunt for suspected drunk drivers. In fact, they may know where many drunk driving incidents are likely to occur, and they may patrol these areas to a greater extent than others. This is not illegal. 

Can they arrest every driver they see coming out of a bar?

What you should know, though, is that police still need reasonable suspicion just to make a traffic stop. Random stops are illegal, so the police must have a valid reason to pull over a driver.

Just because a person walked out of a bar and got behind the wheel of their car and drove away does not mean they can be pulled over. For all the officer knows, that person wasn’t drinking. Maybe they were working. Maybe they were a designated driver for someone else. Maybe they were just getting something to eat or looking for a friend or relative.

If a person gets in their car and then runs a stop sign on the way out of the parking lot, though, that would likely give the officer a valid reason to pull the car over. They can connect the dots and assume that someone leaving a bar and making serious driving errors may be drunk — which can then lead to more questions and chemical testing.

Just leaving the bar on its own is not enough to justify a traffic stop, however, which is why police officers do not just pull over every car that drives away when the bar closes. 

Are you facing DUI charges?

If you are facing DUI charges and you have questions about the process behind your arrest, make sure you mention your concerns to your defense attorney. You definitely need to look into your defense options as quickly as possible.