Reasonable suspicion’s role in drunk driving stops

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Drivers must ensure they’re in the right shape to drive. One thing that has a negative impact on this is impairment. Police officers keep an eye out for signs of impaired driving and will initiate a traffic stop if they see any signs of it.

In order to stop a vehicle, the police officer has to have reasonable suspicion. This is a very low standard that means the officer saw something a reasonable person would think meant something is amiss.

What can cause reasonable suspicion?

There are many things drivers might do while on the road that could cause someone to think they’re impaired.

  • Driving through red traffic lights or stop signs
  • Driving aggressively
  • Stopping in the middle of the road for no reason
  • Swerving between lanes or straddling the center line
  • Failing to use headlights when they should be illuminated
  • Sideswiping objects on the side of the road

Even in the absence of those signs, the police officer can still initiate a traffic stop if something else is going on. This is often something that goes against the laws regarding motor vehicles or traffic. For example, a vehicle with a headlight out or a driver speeding can lead to a traffic stop. Accidents are another way that officers might come into contact with an impaired driver.

During a traffic stop, an officer may find out that a driver is impaired. This can be done by the driver’s answers to questions or the result of a field sobriety or chemical test. If the roadside breath test indicates impairment, the officer will ask the driver to take another test at a medical facility or the police station because the roadside breath tests aren’t considered accurate enough to be admissible in court.

Make sure you understand the options you have for your drunk driving defense. Working with someone familiar with these matters can help you learn how they’ll impact you now and into the future. Ideally, you’ll do this as early in the case as possible because some options are time-sensitive.