Under what conditions can a police officer stop you on suspicion of DUI? To initiate a traffic stop, police officers must have reasonable suspicion of DUI or a violation of traffic regulations. But how can a cop generate reasonable suspicion?
What Constitutes Reasonable Suspicion?
Reasonable suspicion is a belief that a crime has happened, is happening, or will happen based on evidence and conditions that would bring other reasonable law enforcement personnel to the same conclusion.
Reasonable suspicion is the second degree of suspicion that law enforcement can have, following a “mere hunch” based on an officer’s entirely subjective view but preceding probable cause, based on actual proof of a crime.
Common Sources of Reasonable Suspicion
Law enforcement officials commonly stop persons on suspicion of DUI if they show the following drunk-driving behaviors:
– Driving across the center line
– Unnecessary stopping
– Unnecessary honking
– Excessive braking
– Straddling lanes
Of course, these actions may also signal that a motorist is distracted, tired, or driving carelessly or recklessly in general. However, these actions might raise a police officer’s reasonable suspicion that a traffic law violation is taking place, allowing the officer to further conduct a traffic stop to examine the cause of the driver’s behavior.
Is Probable Cause the Same as Reasonable Suspicion?
Reasonable suspicion is a level of criminal suspicion lower than probable cause. As a higher level of suspicion, probable cause requires an officer to have firsthand knowledge of facts that would lead a sensible person to think that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed.
Reasonable suspicion only allows authorities to hold and interview someone suspected of criminal conduct for a short period. To arrest someone, conduct a legitimate warrantless search, or seek a search warrant, probable cause must be shown.
Probable Grounds for Arrest
The following are instances in which police may have probable cause to arrest someone for DUI:
– Failing field sobriety tests, which are meant to determine if an individual is intoxicated.
– Failing a breathalyzer test, which provides a precise reading of blood alcohol concentration.
While you have the freedom to decline field sobriety tests or a roadside breathalyzer test, other circumstances may combine to lead a police officer to develop reasonable cause to arrest you for DUI. These include your driving conduct, mood during the traffic stop, and physical indicators of drunkenness such as the stench of alcohol, watery eyes, slurred speech, or cognitive and motor coordination difficulties.
If you are the individual a law enforcement officer is stopping, it is important to corporate with them as they are only doing what they believe is best. More often than not, corporating ensures that you are checked and free to go in no time (especially if you are clean).
For help with your DUI or traffic case, please contact our office. With over 75 years of combined legal experience, Attorneys David B. Franks, David N. Rechenberg and James H. Andrle have helped regular people overcome extraordinary obstacles.