Reasonable suspicion means that facts or circumstances led to an objective and justifiable expectation that a crime might have been committed. Since the United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment prohibits “unreasonable” search and seizures, reasonable suspicion is the justification used by police to stop drivers that they believe may be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, even if a field sobriety test or breathalyzer determines that the driver is driving under the influence, the charge may be dismissed if it appears there was no reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed.
What Constitutes Reasonable Suspicion?
There could be several actions that a driver takes that lead them to stop a driver who appears to be impaired:
- Weaving lanes or drifting from one lane to another
- Straddling the center line
- Turning illegally
- Stopping in lanes of traffic when there is no apparent reason
- Driving considerably under the speed limit
- Frequent braking when no cars are close
There could be other reasons that an officer could legally stop a vehicle other than driving irregularities, such as expired tags or malfunctioning tail lights. It is not unusual for the responding police officers to ask drivers involved in traffic accidents if they’ve been drinking or taking anything that could impair their judgment. If an officer smells alcohol, detects slurred speech or suspects that the driver is impaired, they could request a sobriety test.
Is Reasonable Suspicion Enough for a DUI Arrest?
In short, the answer is no. There is a small but distinct difference in the lawful reason for a stop and the legal basis for an arrest. For the arrest to be legitimate, there has to be probable cause and not just reasonable suspicion. Once a driver has failed a field sobriety or roadside breath test, the law deems that to be probable cause that the driver did commit an illegal offense.
What Should I Do If the Arrest Was Illegal?
It can be challenging to dispute probable cause once the evidence is presented. The courts tend to side with the officers. However, if the arrest was illegal, any evidence gathered after the arrest will be inadmissible. However, some procedures must be followed if that is the case, such as a motion to suppress evidence.If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you should contact a Civic Center San Francisco DUI lawyer, like from Hallinan Law Firm. Your lawyer can examine the evidence of your case and explain your rights under the law.