Understanding Reasonable Suspicion In DUI Cases And How Your DUI Lawyer Can Help

Law Blog

One of the defense strategies your DUI lawyer may go with for your case is challenging reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Your attorney will do this by filing a motion to suppress evidence.

Want to get a better understanding of this defense that your DUI attorney will be presenting for your case? Here is what you should know.

Reasonable Suspicion for DUI Stop: What It Constitutes

As per the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, an officer of the law is only allowed to pull you over if they have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that you were, are, or are going to be involved in illegal activity in DUI.

Your DUI lawyer will emphasize that this reasonable suspicion does not have to be a reasonable suspicion that you are driving while in a drunken state. The officer can pull you over if they witness you commit a traffic violation, observe you swerving repeatedly, or any other erratic or dangerous behavior, often indicative of impairment.

During your hearing, your DUI attorney will present the facts of what happened before the stop and argue against the officer having reasonable suspicion before pulling you over. Any evidence obtained during the investigatory stop, in the absence of reasonable suspicion, should not be used against you at trial to establish guilt.

The Exception

The only exception to the reasonable suspicion requirement in DUI cases is sobriety checkpoints. Most police departments will announce to the public where and when these sobriety checkpoints will be ahead of time.

Is Reasonable Suspicion the Same as Probable Cause?

Reasonable suspicion is a standard that's much lower than probable cause. The burden of proof is no doubt lower with reasonable suspicion than probable cause.

Probable cause, in a DUI, constitutes information or evidence that would lead a reasonable person to believe that one is indeed driving under the influence. An officer would need probable cause to make an arrest. The officer will gather evidence towards probable cause from their interaction with you at the stop. This includes:

  • Statements from the driver
  • Sure signs of impairment
  • Field evidence such as field sobriety and breath tests.

What Next?

Suppose your DUI lawyer can successfully argue a motion to suppress and keep out evidence gathered during a stop for lack of reasonable suspicion. In that case, your DUI charge may very well be dismissed. Of course, this is only one defense strategy, and you can trust an expert DUI attorney to choose the best defense based on the circumstances of your case.

For more information on how a DUI lawyer could help you, contact a professional near you.


21 October 2021

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