No one should drive when they've had too much to drink. However, just because you have something to drink doesn't mean you are intoxicated. Most people drink responsibility, and know when to stop. However, just because you aren't intoxicated doesn't mean you don't run the risk of being stopped.

At the very least it's a  minor inconvenience, and it could turn into far more. Police only need probable cause to arrest you, and they are always going to err on the side of taking you to jail - better that than allow someone who is intoxicated back on the road where they might cause an accident.

You can a few common sense steps to minimize your chances of getting stopped - not only after you've had something to drink. Let's face it - no one wants to get pulled over, so why not try to avoid it. So here are my thoughts - I'm sure there are far more, but at least it's a start.

  1. Make sure your license and registration are current. Police officers are trained to look for license and inspection stickers. If they're expired you just gave them a reason to stop you. Before you get in the car check your inspection sticker and your license tag and make sure they up to date.
  2. Check your equipment. Another sure fire way to get pulled is to have equipment that's not operating properly. Check your turn signal lights, brake lights, and headlights and make sure they are all working properly. Also make sure your license plate light is working - and while your at it make sure you have a  license plate.
  3. Don't speed. You probably heard since you started driving that the police aren't going to pull you over as long as your not going more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Some people believe that's a law - it's not. The police are authorized to pull you over if you are going over the speed limit - even 1 mph over the limit. So if you don't want to run the risk of getting pulled over, don't speed.
  4. Maintain a consistent speed. We've all seen the person who drives slow until you go to pass them and they speed up. Or you pass them and they come back and pass you. That's one of the signs of an impaired driver. So try to maintain a consistent speed.
  5. Use your signals. When you turn or change lanes use your turn signals.
  6. Stop at stop signs. I know it's really hard to come to a complete stop when no one is around. You never know when a police officer is around though - they might just be waiting to see who runs the stop sign.

You're probably saying this is pretty basic - it is. The goal is to not get pulled over, and if your'e doing everything properly and following all of the rules there's no reaon to stop you.

What about before you get in the car. The basic rule - which is nothing more than an average - is that you eliminate the equivalent of one drink ever hour. So if you have a drink  and wait an hour, you should theoretically not have any alcohol in your system.

If you do get pulled over you know the first request is going to be for your license and registration. Make sure you know where they are. One of the things an officer looks for is whether you have trouble getting your license -  or you insurance card. Most people keep their insurance card in the glove box - if so, know where it is.

Nothing ruins a day like getting stopped by the police. Use some common sense, ahead and increase your chances of making it home safely.

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.