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How does an officer obtain reasonable suspicion for DUI purposes?

We all make snap judgments about many things. For example, many people may see someone texting on their cellphone while walking down the street, and we may assume that the person is "obsessed with their phone." It's part of who we are as people. We take some basic points of information and form an opinion about the situation we just saw.

We bring this up because this is an incredibly important part of drunk driving law. A police officer makes a decision as to whether or not he or she has "reasonable suspicion" to investigate a person for drunk driving. It's not solely a judgement -- but the guidelines for how an officer obtains reasonable suspicion are a little vague. They could describe many drivers who suffer from daydreaming or a brief lapse of attention.

Here are some of those guidelines for obtaining "reasonable suspicion" that someone is a drunk driver:

  • Illegal or erratic driving moves
  • Swerving or crossing lane lines
  • Nearly hitting other vehicles
  • Frequent breaking or driving at slow speeds

Reasonable suspicion is the first step in a DUI case. That means that if a police officer didn't have reasonable suspicion or if the prosecution fails to prove that the officer had reasonable suspicion, then a person accused of drunk driving could have the case against him or her dismissed even if they were drunk or intoxicated behind the wheel.

This is such a crucial element of DUI cases, and people who are accused of driving under the influence need to have this element of their case fully investigated and scrutinized.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Reasonable Suspicion for a DUI Stop?," Accessed Oct. 10, 2014

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