What does “reasonable suspicion” have to do with drunk driving cases?

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2021 | DWI Defense

Part of a police officer’s job when they’re out on patrol is to watch what’s going on with other motorists so they can spot signs of trouble, including indications of impaired driving.

If they have reasonable suspicion that a driver they see is impaired, they will initiate a traffic stop. 

What is reasonable suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion means that the officer has a reason to think that a crime has been committed. They don’t need firm proof that one has been committed. In the case of drunk driving, there are many signs that a motorist is impaired. Some of these include:

  • Weaving between lanes
  • Stopping without any reason
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Failing to obey traffic signals and signs
  • Turning illegally
  • Driving without lights on when it’s dark

Other signs are also possible. It’s also possible that an officer might see something that violates the law or traffic code. This includes things like not having working brake lights. 

What happens if a vehicle is stopped?

Officers who stop a vehicle for the suspicion of drunk driving will try to determine what’s going on with the driver. This may include asking the driver to take a chemical test or having them go through a field sobriety test to determine whether they’re impaired or not.

The standard for reasonable suspicion is pretty low — but that doesn’t mean that every traffic stop is justified. If you are facing drunk driving charges, it’s wisest to exercise your right to remain silent and seek immediate legal counsel.