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What role does reasonable suspicion play in DUI cases?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2021 | Criminal Law

There are many duties that police officers have when they’re on patrol. One of these is to try to keep the streets safe. This entails many things, one of which is keeping drunk drivers off the roads. In order to do this, they have to try to determine which drivers seem impaired. This isn’t always easy. 

Police officers must look for the signs of drunk driving. If they notice these, they can pull a vehicle over for the suspicion of drunk driving. This is because a driver who’s doing any of the things that are associated with impaired driving meets the standard of reasonable suspicion. 

What is “reasonable suspicion” of impaired driving?

Reasonable suspicion means that the officer has reason to believe that there is a crime being committed. In the case of an impaired driver, many signs of intoxicated driving can meet this standard: 

  • Making illegal turns or failing to use a turn signal
  • Stopping in the middle of the road without reason
  • Driving too fast or slow
  • Failing to turn on the headlights from dusk to dawn or in inclement weather
  • Swerving between lanes or straddling the centerline
  • Hitting or barely missing roadside objects

A driver who’s pulled over for the suspicion of drunk driving will likely be asked to do a chemical test or a field sobriety test to determine whether they’re legally intoxicated or not. If it’s found that they are, the officer will conduct an arrest based on the standard of probable cause. This means that there’s evidence that the crime was committed. At this point, discussing your case with your attorney is a good course of action.