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What is reasonable suspicion in DUI cases?

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2023 | Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in most states. The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in Maryland is 0.08%, with some exceptions. 

Reasonable suspicion is a legal term used in the United States to describe the level of suspicion law enforcement officers require to stop and detain a person for questioning. Reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch or a feeling; it requires specific facts that would lead them to believe that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed.

Examples of reasonable suspicion

In DUI cases, reasonable suspicion may arise from a variety of sources. For example, an officer may observe a driver swerving or driving erratically, such as weaving in and out of traffic lanes, running a red light or stop sign or driving too slowly. An officer may also observe physical signs of impairment, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech or the smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath.

Reasonable suspicion can also arise from the driver’s behavior when interacting with the officer. For example, if the driver is uncooperative or hostile or refuses to perform a field sobriety test, it may raise suspicion that they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What happens if an officer has established reasonable suspicion?

Once the officer reasonably suspects that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may detain the driver and conduct a DUI investigation. This may involve a field sobriety test, a breathalyzer test or a blood test to determine the driver’s BAC.

It is important to note that reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause, which is required for a DUI arrest. Probable cause requires a higher level of certainty that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed. In DUI cases, probable cause typically requires a BAC level above the legal limit or other evidence of impairment, such as failed field sobriety tests.

If you are ever arrested for DUI, you have legal rights. Knowing what these are can help you to protect yourself.