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Reasonable suspicion’s role in suspected drunk driving stops

| Oct 25, 2021 | DWI Defense

Individuals stopped on suspicion of drunk driving might wonder why the police detained them. In many cases, the answer to this is that the police officer saw signs of impairment and used the concept of reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop. 

Reasonable suspicion means that the officer saw something that led them to believe something illegal was going on. This standard is much less strict than that of probable cause. While the officer can initiate the stop for reasonable suspicion, they can’t arrest the person based on it. 

How do probable cause and reasonable suspicion differ?

It’s unnecessary for there to be evidence for a law enforcement officer to have reasonable suspicion. However, the evidence must be present to forward for probable cause to exist. It might seem like this is a minimal difference, but it carries significant weight in a criminal case. When reasonable suspicion isn’t present, the traffic stop shouldn’t have occurred. There shouldn’t be any arrest if there isn’t probable cause, which might be obtained from a chemical test. 

What qualifies as reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop?

There are many things that police officers may look for when they’re out patrolling. Certain actions drivers take would alert them that there’s something amiss include a motorist who is:

  • Driving too slowly
  • Speeding or driving aggressively
  • Failing to stop for traffic control devices
  • Swerving between lanes
  • Braking when it isn’t necessary
  • Slamming into roadside objects
  • Making illegal turns

Anyone facing impaired driving charges should ensure they understand what options they have in their case. Working with someone familiar with these cases may aid you in determining how your case and future might be impacted by the decisions that you make.