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What is reasonable suspicion in drunk driving stops?

On Behalf of | Aug 4, 2023 | Drunk Driving

Being pulled over by law enforcement can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’re suspected of driving under the influence. One critical concept to understand in this situation is reasonable suspicion. This legal standard plays a significant role in the initial interaction with the police officer and can profoundly impact subsequent legal proceedings.

Reasonable suspicion refers to the legal requirement that an officer must meet before stopping a vehicle. They must observe something that would make a reasonable person think that a driver is impaired if they’re going to conduct a drunk driving traffic stop. It’s typically based on the officer’s training, experience and the specific circumstances surrounding the stop. 

What constitutes reasonable suspicion in a DUI stop?

Reasonable suspicion for a DUI stop could arise from various observations. For example, the officer might observe erratic driving, such as weaving, swerving or making overly wide turns. Other indicators could include speeding or driving too slowly, sudden stops, failing to obey traffic signals or even an anonymous tip. Having a hunch without objective facts is insufficient to meet the legal standard of reasonable suspicion.

What happens if reasonable suspicion is lacking?

If the officer doesn’t have reasonable suspicion for the stop, any evidence obtained during the stop could be suppressed in court. This includes any results from field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests conducted after the stop.

Reasonable suspicion isn’t enough for an officer to make an arrest. Instead, their investigation must result in a higher standard, probable cause, to arrest the person. Working with someone who understands the concept of reasonable suspicion and how it applies to these cases can help you develop your defense strategy. 


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