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What is reasonable suspicion in a drunk driving stop?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2020 | Drunk Driving

Realizing that there is a police officer behind your vehicle if you’re driving after you’ve had a few drinks can make your heart pound. Many things might go through your mind when you’re pulled over. You should remember that your defense strategy may depend at least partially on what happens next.

The officer must have a valid reason to conduct a traffic stop. This is known as reasonable suspicion, which is a fairly low standard for them to meet. It simply means that they saw something that led them to believe that you were breaking the law. In the case of drunk driving, this might mean that they saw you swerving or driving erratically.

Once they stop you, they will have to see if there is probable cause to initiate an arrest. This is a stricter standard of proof than reasonable suspicion. The officer must have something that points to you being too impaired to drive. This can come from your admission that you were drinking alcohol, so it’s wise to remember this before you answer any questions about where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing. Without information from you, the officer may have to rely on things like the standardized field sobriety test or a chemical test to have probably cause.

If the officer finds that you meet the legal requirements for drunk driving, you’ll be arrested. At this point, you need to think about the direction of your defense strategy. Your attorney will be able to help you learn about the options that you have so that you can do what you feel is in your best long-term interests.