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3 facts about reasonable suspicion in drunk driving stops

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2023 | Drunk Driving

For most drivers, seeing the flashing lights of a police vehicle behind them induces anxious feelings. These effects may increase if you know you’ve had a couple of drinks and are concerned that the officer will think you’re driving drunk.

Some may wonder how police officers determine what vehicles should be pulled over when there aren’t obvious traffic infractions, such as running red lights or making illegal turns. The answer is that they rely heavily on reasonable suspicion, which includes anything that would lead a reasonable person to believe a crime was committed or is currently being committed.

1: Certain behaviors can result in reasonable suspicion

When it comes to drunk driving, reasonable suspicion includes seeing things that drivers who are impaired usually do. A few of these include:

  • Swerving between lanes
  • Hitting or nearly hitting roadside objects
  • Driving far too slow or fast
  • Failing to put headlights on when required

The standard of reasonable suspicion is much lower than that of probable cause.

2: Provides the ability to investigate the situation

An officer with probable cause can investigate the driver’s situation to determine if they’re impaired. This can be done in several ways, including a chemical test or standardized field sobriety tests.

3: Not suitable for an arrest

Because reasonable suspicion is such a low standard, it’s not enough to warrant an arrest. Instead, the officer’s investigation into the driver’s condition must show probable cause if an arrest is conducted.

Reasonable suspicion and probable cause can come into the picture when developing your defense strategy. Working with someone who can help you determine if this is suitable for your case is a good idea.