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What Is Reasonable Suspicion in a DUI Investigation?

Posted on April 3rd, 2020 by Oddo & Babat, P.C.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Law enforcement agencies across the country must abide by rules and guidelines to guide them through their jobs. These rules were instituted to protect the rights of individuals against intimidating tactics. One of the foundations of police procedure is the reasonable suspicion rule. Discover what this means and how it may apply to traffic stops.

Reasonable Suspicion Standards

Reasonable suspicion is the element in law enforcement investigations that allows an officer to detain a suspect. During this brief detention, the office may also pat the suspect down to ensure they are not carrying a weapon that could harm the officer. If the officer comes upon anything else but a weapon during this cursory search, they may not use it as evidence against the detained. The officer has to inform the suspect that they are being held. If an officer is going to detain under this fundamental basis of law, they must have more than a gut feeling that the suspect may be guilty of a crime. There must be other factors that lead them to believe the person is guilty.

Applications To a Traffic Stop

When a police officer suspects a person is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they cannot pull them over for that. The driver must commit another type of traffic crime, such as running a stop sign or switching lanes without a blinker. Once there is a ticketable offense, the officer may pull the vehicle over and begin the investigation into possible intoxication.

Reasonable Suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated

As the officer goes about questioning the suspected intoxicated driver, they may start observing signs that there is impairment. First, a driver’s eyes may appear bloodshot and droopy. The odor of alcohol may waft either from the driver or the car itself. Finally, the slurring of speech or the inability to answer simple questions may give the officer what they need to have a reasonable suspicion to continue the investigation.

Detention for Further Roadside Testing

The officer may officially detain the driver, keeping them there for further roadside investigation. During this time, an officer may put the driver through a series of roadside sobriety tests or a breathalyzer. If the driver fails one or both of these tests, the detention often becomes an arrest. The tests aid in the officer’s conclusion that the reasonable suspicion of driving intoxicated was proven.

If you find yourself arrested for this type of offense, a Civic Center San Francisco DUI lawyer may be called in to help. Finding one in your area may help you get your case concluded sooner.



Thanks to Hallinan Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and reasonable suspicion in a DUI investigation.


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