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What reasonable suspicion means for a DUI charge

You may not think about this often, but reasonable suspicion is a very important factor -- indeed, the most important factor -- in any drunk driving case. A police officer must ascertain reasonable suspicion in order to proceed with any detention of a suspect and the subsequent investigation of that suspect or the suspect's vehicle.

Ascertaining reasonable suspicion is a somewhat nebulous idea, though. Couldn't the police officer just say that he or she "smelled alcohol on the suspect's breath" or that "the car was swerving" even when the person really didn't smell of alcohol or even if the car really wasn't swerving? This is the problem with reasonable suspicion, and why it is such a crucial part of any DUI case. It literally allows a case to proceed or denies it before it even gets started. Without reasonable suspicion, the DUI case against an individual can be dismissed even if that person was legally drunk or intoxicated while driving.

The prosecution has to prove that the officer in question had reasonable suspicion when they accused you of and arrested you for driving under the influence. There are a variety of legitimate reasons for ascertaining such a suspicion, including:

  • Swerving near or across the center lane or lane dividers
  • Coming close to other vehicles or nearly causing accidents
  • Illegal driving moves or behavior
  • Frequent braking, or otherwise erratic driving

Remember, reasonable suspicion is the key to any DUI case. Without it, the police don't have a case. If you believe you were wrongfully targeted and your claim can be proven, then the DUI case against you could be dismissed.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Reasonable Suspicion for a DUI Stop?," Accessed Oct. 9, 2014

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