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What role does reasonable suspicion play in drunk driving stops?

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

People who are pulled over by police officers usually wonder what they did that caused the traffic stop. Some might even think that there wasn’t really a good reason. It might surprise you to know that there only has to be reasonable suspicion that a crime is occurring or has occurred in order for an officer to legally make a stop. 

The standard for reasonable suspicion is much lower than probable cause, so the officer can conduct the traffic stop based on witnessing things that indicate a driver might be impaired. Once the officer makes contact with the driver, they may obtain evidence that meets the standard of probable cause that’s necessary for an arrest.

What are some signs that meet the criteria for reasonable suspicion?

There are many things that a cop might see that can meet the standard of reasonable suspicion. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Stopping without a valid reason
  • Disobeying traffic signals or signs
  • Swerving or drifting between lanes
  • Making illegal turns or turning without a signal
  • Braking frequently and without cause
  • Going too fast or too slow for conditions
  • Driving without headlights in the dark or inclement weather
  • Coming close to hitting things on the side of the road

Anyone who’s accused of drunk driving should learn about their legal options. It’s best to do this quickly since there are some that might be time-sensitive. An experienced defense can help protect your rights and your future — and that’s essential with an OWI (operating while impaired) charge. Don’t let the prosecution convince you that the outcome of your case is inevitable.