How do the police establish reasonable suspicion for a DUI stop?

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | DUI |

Police officers play a crucial role in keeping us safe. From guiding traffic to responding to car accidents to responding to accidents and pulling drunk drivers off the road, these public servants dedicate their lives to ensuring public safety. 

But the police cannot stop you for a DUI investigation on an inarticulable hunch. They must be reasonably suspicious that you could be drunk to pull you over for further investigation. But what exactly is reasonable suspicion for a DUI stop and how is it established?

Understanding reasonable suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is the legal standard that requires law enforcement officers to use common sense to infer that you have committed a crime or are in the process of doing so. In the context of drunk driving, reasonable suspicion is largely based on the police’s observation of your driving behavior. 

Here are objective indicators of reasonable suspicion that can trigger a DUI stop:

  • Lane position – If you are hugging the centerline or having a difficult time maintaining your lane (swerving or weaving in and out of your lane or taking wide turns), then the police might want to know why this is so. 
  • Erratic driving behavior – Speeding and stopping unpredictably, driving too slowly or running the red line at an intersection could be clear indicators that your judgment is impaired by alcohol or other inebriating substances.
  • Lack of situational awareness – if you are driving at night with your headlights off or if you are driving in the wrong lane, then the police will probably stop you for a DUI investigation. 

There are instances, however, when law enforcement may not need reasonable suspicion to pull you over. An example of this would be at a legal sobriety checkpoint. 

Being booked and charged with drunk driving can be a frightening experience. If this happened on a mere whim, then you should seek legal guidance to figure out how to build your defense.