How do reasonable suspicion and drunk driving relate?

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Police officers always try to keep the roads safe. During the holiday season, they’re usually going to pay more attention than ever to drivers’ behaviors so they can spot signs of impaired driving — simply because drinking is so common. If they spot anything suspicious, you can expect to be pulled over.

It surprises people to know, however, that police officers can’t just stop you any time they want. They must have reasonable suspicion that something is amiss in order to initiate the stop. 

What is reasonable suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion means that a reasonable person would believe that someone in the vehicle was actively breaking the law, had already broken the law, or was on the way to break the law. When it comes to drunk driving, 

Some signs of drunk driving that may give reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop include:

  • Driving the wrong way
  • Crossing the center line
  • Driving through red lights or stop signs
  • Braking without a valid reason

It is not acceptable, however, for an officer to pull over a car simply because they think you don’t belong in the neighborhood or that they’re suspicious because you happen to be on the road right when the bars let out.

Once the officer pulls a driver over, they will try to determine what’s going on. This typically starts with talking to the driver. They may request the driver take a field sobriety or chemical test — and that can lead to a drunk driving arrest.

Anyone who’s facing a charge for impaired driving this holiday season should ensure they understand their options for fighting the charge. That includes situations where the traffic stop seemed to come out of nowhere.