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What is reasonable suspicion for a DUI stop?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | DUI/OWI

When people see the flashing lights of a police vehicle behind them, they may automatically get nervous. One of the biggest questions many people will have is why they got pulled over. 

In some cases, the answer to that question is that the police officer saw something that made them think the driver was impaired. This is known as reasonable suspicion, and it plays a primary role in suspected drunk driving stops. 

What is reasonable suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard that requires an officer to notice something specific that would lead a reasonable person to believe the driver was impaired. This can include:

  • Failing to stop at red lights or stop signs
  • Driving too fast or too slow
  • Swerving between lanes
  • Braking without a valid reason to do so

Other circumstances, such as a broken taillight or cracked windshield may lead to a stop. Another time when officers may contact a suspected drunk driver is when there’s a motor vehicle crash. 

What happens during and after the stop?

Once an officer stops a vehicle based on reasonable suspicion of drunk driving, they will try to determine what’s going on. This can include talking to the driver, asking them to take a field sobriety test or requesting a chemical test. 

To arrest the driver for drunk driving, the cop needs to have probable cause. This is a stricter legal standard that means the officer has valid facts that support the accusation of drunk driving. 

Anyone who’s arrested for drunk driving should ensure they understand their rights and options for dealing with the charge. Working with someone familiar with these cases may be beneficial for anyone in this position.