Is “weaving within a lane” probable cause for a DUI stop?
It depends. Unless there is “pronounced weaving” for a “substantial” distance, witnessed by a “seasoned” officer, the answer will be no. Good news for many California DUI suspects.
1. When can weaving serve as probable cause for a DUI stop?
Many officers will pull over suspected drunk drivers because they are weaving within their lanes. This, the police believe, is a DUI cue warranting further investigation.
But courts have held that this does not rise to the level of probable cause that is necessary to pull a driver over for suspected California DUI charges. “Probable cause” means a reasonable belief that criminal activity is or was taking place. With respect to driving, it means that the officer reasonably believes that a driver is or has committed a traffic infraction or violation.
Weaving within a lane isn’t in and of itself a violation, and resultantly, isn’t sufficient to justify a traffic stop. Because of this, weaving within a lane won’t typically give an officer probable cause to stop you for a California DUI.1
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.