Randall & Stump, PLLC

What should I know about the reason for a DUI stop?

As you are driving home after a night out with the guys, you feel fine. Sure, you had a few drinks but not enough to impact your abilities. You can most certainly get yourself home safely and decide to drive back to the house.

All of a sudden, you see the flashing lights of a police cruiser in your mirror. Your first thought is being upset that you got stopped. You realize that you have been drinking but you are sure that you are fine. The officer doesn't think that you are able to drive home and you are now facing a charge for drunk driving.

At this point, you need to start thinking about your defense. Once thing that you can look into is whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to pull you over.

What is reasonable suspicion?

A police officer can't pull you over for no reason. Instead, the police officer has to see you do something illegal, like running a red light. He or she can also pull you over based on reasonable suspicion. This means that the officer has to have a reason to think that there is something illegal going on in your vehicle. This standard is much lower than probable cause, which requires proof that it is likely that there is something illegal occurring.

What are some examples of reasonable suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion can come from seeing you driving too slowly on the road, swerving into other lanes, riding your brakes or stopping suddenly. It can also come from driving too fast for the conditions on the road or making snap decisions while you drive. The officer would have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle if you almost hit objects, are driving against traffic, or are straddling the center line. Having a headlight or brake light that isn't functioning could be reasonable suspicion, as could using windshield wipers in dry conditions or failing to use them in the rain.

What can I do if that wasn't present in my traffic stop?

If you can prove that the officer didn't have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle, you can use that information as part of your defense. This is often difficult to prove and might come down to your word against the officer's word. Since this is only one possible point that you might be able to raise in your defense, you must consider all other options that are available. Your defense must be developed on fact and presented in a way that shows your side of the story.

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