Swain Law Group
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Reasonable suspicion is important in many DUI stops

If a police officer is going to pull someone over for the suspicion of drunk driving, they have to have reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired. There are many ways that the officer can meet this requirement. Some of the most common involve watching the person's driving behaviors to determine if they are consistent with someone who is impaired.

The standard of reasonable suspicion requires less to meet then the standard of probable cause. The officer doesn't have to know for a fact or have a strong reason to believe that the person committed a crime in order to stop the vehicle. Still, a police officer should not stop a driver who is driving safely and not showing any signs of being drunk or otherwise impaired.

Some of the more common behaviors that give a police officer reasonable suspicion include:

  • Slow or erratic driving
  • Almost hitting objects on the road side
  • Drifting between lanes
  • Driving along the center line
  • Making illegal terms
  • Breaking frequently

Other behaviors might also be possible, so officers must use their best judgment to determine how to handle drivers they feel are driving drunk.

Once the officer decides that they have reasonable suspicion to pull the vehicle over, they will initiate the traffic stop. Once they do this, they will talk to the driver and see if there's any other reason to believe that the person is impaired.

They might ask you to do a standardized field sobriety test or to take a breath test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This is when probable cause comes into the picture. If the officer has probable cause that shows you were likely drinking and driving, you will likely be arrested. From this point on, you need to determine how you were going to handle your drunk driving defense.

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