Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard that allows law enforcement officers to initiate a stop of a person based on observable facts that suggest illegal activity. In DUI stops, this could include erratic driving, weaving between lanes or even something as seemingly innocent as driving too slowly.
One challenging aspect of reasonable suspicion is that it’s subjective. The key is that what the officer sees as a reason to conduct a stop must be something that a reasonable person would agree could signal that a driver is impaired. Once the stop is initiated, the officer will try to either debunk the suspicion or they will have to gather evidence amounting to probable cause so they can conduct an arrest.
Reasonable suspicion isn’t cause for arrest
Reasonable suspicion gives them the legal right to pull the driver over for further investigation, including field sobriety tests or even a breath test. Failing these tests could result in a DUI, but the officer having reasonable suspicion alone isn’t enough to warrant an arrest.
Because of the potential ramifications, it’s crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities when you’re pulled over. You have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself, and you also have the right to refuse a search of your vehicle unless the officer has a warrant or probable cause.
Understanding what constitutes reasonable suspicion can be the difference between a lawful arrest and a violation of your constitutional rights. This knowledge can be especially valuable if you’re facing a drunk driving charge. Working with someone who’s familiar with the circumstances of your case and this area of the law can help you determine how to proceed with a defense strategy.