When an officer pulls over a driver, he or she must have reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing a crime. If the officer violates this standard, the traffic stop may not hold up in court, even if the stop resulted in criminal charges, like a DUI. Similarly, in order to justify arresting a driver, an officer must assess enough evidence to reasonably claim the driver committed a crime.
If you recently received a DUI charge and believe that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over, you should carefully consider all of your legal options and begin building a staunch defense as soon as possible. The sooner you begin building your defense, the longer you have to assess the prosecution's case and identify any weaknesses in the evidence against you. That could include challenging whether the officer should have stopped you in the first place.
An experienced criminal defense attorney is a great resource for those facing DUI charges with complex factors. Professional legal guidance ensures that you do not miss out on important defense strategies while securing your rights.
What counts as reasonable suspicion?
"Reasonable suspicion" is a fairly broad legal term, but it does have limitations. If a police officer has any specific reason to suspect a driver is drunk, like swerving, he can pull the driver over. However, an officer is not allowed to pull over a driver for simply no reason at all.
Even with reasonable suspicion, the officer is only allowed to stop and possibly detain a driver for a short amount of time to identify any evidence to suggest the driver is intoxicated or committing another crime. Without sufficient evidence to suggest the driver is committing a crime, the officer does not have probable cause, which is necessary to place the driver under arrest.
What counts as probable cause?
The definition of probable cause varies from one alleged crime to another. In the case of drunk driving, if the officer suspects that you are driving while intoxicated, probable cause may include a driver failing a field sobriety test, e.g., walking a line, or could include a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content (BAC).
Some law enforcement officers regularly attempt to pass off minimal or ambiguous evidence as sufficient probable cause, which may not hold up in court. If you believe that an officer charged you without sufficient evidence or because of inaccurate results from a sobriety test, be sure to consider all your legal options.