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What is reasonable suspicion for a cop to stop a vehicle?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2020 | Drunk driving

Police officers need to have a reason to pull a vehicle over. They’re trained to watch for signs that drivers are doing something illegal. One of the things they monitor the roads for is signs of drunk drivers. They will initiate a traffic stop if they have reason to believe that the driver is intoxicated. This is known a “reasonable suspicion.” It is a lower standard than probable cause, so it doesn’t take much for the officer to meet it. 

There are several signs that point to a driver being impaired. The officers will look for these actions:

  • Illegal turns
  • Weaving through lanes
  • Straddling the centerline
  • Driving erratically 
  • Going too fast or slow
  • Almost hitting things on the side of the road
  • Braking without reason
  • Not obeying traffic signals

On top of those signs, an officer might find out that a driver’s impaired following an accident. In any case, the cop’s priority during the stop is to establish probable cause to conduct an arrest or to determine that the driver isn’t actually impaired so they can be on their way. Probable cause may be established through a field sobriety test or a chemical test. 

If you’re facing a criminal charge for drunk driving, the reason for the traffic stop might come into the case. If the officer didn’t have reasonable suspicion, they shouldn’t stop a vehicle. There’s also the possibility that constitutional rights violations and other issues might occur. Discussing your defense options with your attorney can help you to know what components you might use in your strategy.