If the police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence (DUI), they have the right to pull you over, subject you to field sobriety and blood alcohol tests, and decide whether to charge you or not. However, to do so legally, they must have a justifiable reason for the traffic stop.
In the context of driving under influence, the officer must demonstrate reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop. Without this, then you may have legal grounds to challenge your DUI charge.
Understanding the concept of reasonable suspicion in the context of a DUI stop
Reasonable suspicion is the absolute lowest form of the evidentiary standard needed to meet the legal requirements for a stop. The police don’t have to be certain that you are impaired to pull you over – they merely need to have what amounts to a reasonable belief that you could be impaired based on their experience, training and observations.
Some traffic violations that may prompt the police to suspect that you might be operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol include:
- An inability to maintain the proper lane
- Erratic or extremely slow driving
- Making illegal turns
- Frequent and unjustified braking
- Driving in the dark without headlights
- Weaving in traffic
- Stopping in the middle of the road
- Tailgaiting other drivers
Once a police officer makes a stop, they can then begin their investigation to determine why you may have been driving so haphazardly — and that can include checking to see if you’re impaired by drugs or alcohol.
If you have been arrested for a DUI, one of the defense options you may consider is challenging the legality of your arrest. If you believe you did nothing unlawful to warrant a stop, then you may cite a lack of reasonable suspicion for your traffic stop and eventual prosecution.