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Reasonable suspicion in drunk driving stops

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2024 | Drunk Driving |

Police officers have a duty to keep the roadways safe. For example, they are called upon to stop impaired drivers from putting themselves and others at risk.

As officers are patrolling, they may see things that make them believe that a particular driver is impaired. Initiating a traffic stop requires an officer to have reasonable suspicion. This means that they see something that would make a reasonable person believe that the driver at issue is impaired.

What actions can be considered reasonable suspicion?

Drivers who are impaired often demonstrate telltale signs that they aren’t in a proper condition to drive. Some of these include:

  • Swerving between lanes
  • Hitting trashcans, parked cars and other roadside objects
  • Stopping for no reason or failing to stop when necessary
  • Driving too fast or too slow for the current conditions
  • Failing to turn on the headlights from dusk to dawn or when otherwise required

In some cases, the officer may come into contact with an impaired driver for another this. This is common if there’s a wreck or if the vehicle has something that violates the vehicle code. The officer may see signs of impairment, such as having open alcohol containers or smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath.

What’s necessary for a drunk driving arrest?

Once the officer initiates a traffic stop, they’ll have to determine what’s going on. They may ask the driver to take a field sobriety test or a chemical test. This can provide them with probable cause to conduct an arrest.

Probable cause is a stricter standard than reasonable suspicion. The officer can obtain probable cause by having a standardized field sobriety test that indicates impairment or by having a breath, blood or urine test that shows a blood alcohol concentration level that’s .08% or higher.

Anyone who’s arrested for drunk driving should ensure that they explore all possible defense strategy options. Working with a legal professional who can uphold the rights of a defendant is beneficial in these cases because the penalties associated with a conviction are considerable.