Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard that allows law enforcement officers to initiate a stop or conduct a brief investigation. This must be based on specific and articulable facts, that a person has been, is or is about to be engaged in criminal activity.
Understanding what constitutes reasonable suspicion for drunk driving is vital. Behaviors and circumstances that might give an officer reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop for suspected drunk driving include:
This includes swerving, drifting across lanes, making unusually wide turns or straddling the center line while driving. All of these behaviors provide officers a valid reason to stop a vehicle.
Violating traffic laws
Actions like speeding, running a red light or stop sign, failing to signal or any other traffic violation can prompt a stop.
Driving at night with headlights off
Operating a vehicle without headlights in low visibility conditions, especially at night, can indicate driver impairment.
Slow or inconsistent speeds
Driving significantly below the speed limit or displaying inconsistent speeds may signal to an officer that a driver might be under the influence.
Near-miss collisions or hitting objects
If a driver narrowly avoids a collision or hits objects like curbs, signs, or parked vehicles, this may indicate impairment and lead to a traffic stop.
It’s important to note that reasonable suspicion is based on the totality of circumstances and is determined case by case. For individuals facing a drunk driving charge, understanding the nuances of reasonable suspicion can be essential in their defense. Getting experienced legal guidance as soon as possible will help you protect your rights.