What is “reasonable suspicion” and how can it affect a DUI case?

Many drivers are not aware that a police officer must have “reasonable suspicion” in order to pull over a vehicle.

After being stopped for impaired driving, a police officer must then have “reasonable suspicion” that the driver is intoxicated in order to perform a field sobriety test. Without this “reasonable suspicion”, it is illegal for an officer to pull over a vehicle and to make an arrest.

A few examples of “reasonable suspicion” include: straddling the center line, an illegal turn, drifting from one lane to another, frequent braking and erratic driving. It is also important to understand that a DUI arrest can occur even when a driver is stopped for a completely different offense. For instance, a broken brake light would constitute sufficient grounds for a traffic stop. Once the officer suspects the driver is impaired, the field sobriety test is then administered.

It is essential to know what constitutes a legal traffic stop. Many times, even if a driver is in fact intoxicated, a DUI case could be dismissed if the officer did not have “reasonable suspicion” for the stop.