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Police Waiting Outside Bars for Arrests


As a DUI lawyer, we’ve heard some really scary things. You may have heard stories about people being arrested as soon as they pulled out of the parking lot of a bar or nightclub. Within a minute or two of pulling away, the person saw the telltale red and blue lights in their rearview mirror. They realized in an instant that they were about to be pulled over for DUI. They were arrested and charged with DUI and all their friends told them the charges couldn’t stick. People assume that the police are not allowed to sit outside the parking lot of a bar, restaurant, or nightclub and wait to catch someone who is drinking and driving. When our DUI lawyers meet with new clients they tell us the same thing. They insist that the charges will have to be reduced or dismissed because what the police did would be considered entrapment.

If our DUI attorneys in had a dollar for every time they heard that someone was not guilty because of entrapment, they could probably afford a vacation home in Florida. To be serious, entrapment is a very specific law that applies to very specific situations. Not only are the police allowed to wait outside a drinking establishment, but they are encouraged to. Law enforcement’s job is to keep drunk drivers off the road so that the roads are safe for other motorists. If you honestly think they aren’t allowed to do this, then you may be in for quite a shock.

The Police Have a Duty to Keep the Roads Safe from Drunk Drivers

One of the main goals of law enforcement is to protect the public safety. This includes the duty to make sure people are not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While some police officers are more aggressive than others, there is nothing illegal or unlawful about what they’re doing.

The reason the police post themselves near these establishments at certain times of the night is to stop drivers from hurting themselves or other people. Whenever DUI lawyers try to explain this to new clients, they think it emboldens their arguments even more. They suggest that if the police really cared about the safety of its drivers, instead of arresting you for DUI, they would give you a ride home or let you call a friend. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way in Idaho.

The Police Are Legally Allowed to Actively Look for Drunk Drivers

You may be under the impression that the police sit back and randomly pull drivers over outside of drinking establishments. This isn’t actually what they do. What most officers do is park close to the parking lot and watch to see if anybody appears intoxicated on the way to their car. Sometimes, they do cut you a break and give you the chance to arrange for a ride home. Other times, based on the circumstances, they may pull you over and have you perform a breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test, and arrest you for DUI.

What this means is that it is only lawful for a police officer to immediately pull you over outside of a nightclub or bar if you appear to be impaired. An officer could not justify sitting two or three blocks away from the establishment and waiting to pull people over as they leave. While this certainly wouldn’t qualify as entrapment, it wouldn’t be something considered lawful. In order to pull somebody over on a suspicion of DUI, the police must actually have a reason to suspect that you’re drunk or impaired. One argument your DUI attorney may make is that the officers had no reasonable suspicion to think that you may have been impaired. There is no guarantee that your attorney will be able to get the charges dismissed. However, they may be able to reach a deal with the prosecutor to get your charges reduced.

The Cops Just Can’t Pull Random People Over Hoping to Catch a Drunk Driver

As briefly mentioned above, the police cannot randomly pull drivers over in the hopes of arresting them for DUI. The problem is that it would not appear to be random if the officer saw you leave the parking lot of a bar at closing time. One would naturally assume that anyone who has been at the bar until it closes likely had several alcoholic beverages. Therefore, their suspicion of impaired driving would it be justified.

Your DUI Lawyer Won’t Get the Charges Dismissed on this Basis

As mentioned earlier, your DUI lawyer will certainly attempt to get your charges dropped if they believe the police made an unlawful stop. However, in our experience, it doesn’t take much for the police officer to convince the judge that they had reasonable suspicion. All they have to do is say that you were swerving in and out of your lane or that you were driving way under the speed limit. All they will have to show is that they suspected, based on your behavior, that you may have been driving while impaired.

Your Only Hope is for Your DUI Attorney to Get the Charges Dismissed or Reduced

You must remember, the reason you hire a DUI attorney is to help you get the best possible outcome. This does not always mean an acquittal. In some cases, our DUI lawyers are able to get your charges reduced to reckless driving. Reckless driving does not carry a minimum jail sentence. Nor are the fines anywhere near what they would be with a DUI conviction. And, most importantly, your driver’s license will likely not be suspended.

If you have recently been pulled over and arrested for DUI, regardless of the circumstances, you should contact our office right away. Schedule a time to come in and meet with one of our DUI attorneys. There is so much at stake with a DUI conviction that you should not try to handle it all by yourself. The prosecutor will be much more willing to meet with your attorney then they will with a pro se defendant. Having a lawyer by your side may mean the difference between an acquittal and a conviction.