Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement officers need a certain level of justification before they can pull you over. For a drunk driving arrest, the law requires the police to have “reasonable suspicion” that a motorist is engaged in illegal behavior before making the traffic stop. If that is not the case, it is considered an unlawful search, and any evidence obtained from the illegal stop may be suppressed.
The result could be a dismissal of your case, and this is why it is essential to be aware of and protect your legal rights throughout your case. Some instances of reasonable suspicion for a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest are detailed below.
Driving behavior used to establish reasonable suspicion for a DUI traffic stop
Erratic driving behavior is usually the first thing the police observe in a suspected DUI. It may include:
- Lane position: If the police notice that you are having difficulty maintaining your lane position, they may pull you over. This includes actions like swerving, weaving or taking turns too widely.
- Speeding or making unpredictable brakes: Sudden stops, stopping beyond the traffic line at an intersection, speeding or driving too slowly can form reasonable suspicion for your DUI stop.
- Errors in judgment: If the police notice that you are tailgating or driving off the road, they may have reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence.
- Vigilance: If you are driving at night without headlights, running a light or stop sign, or driving in the wrong lane, the police can lawfully pull you over.
There are some exceptions when the police do not need probable cause to stop you. For instance, the police do not need reasonable suspicion to stop you at a legal sobriety checkpoint.
Protecting your rights after a drunk driving charge isn’t always easy. Learning more about your legal options can help.