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What constitutes reasonable suspicion?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Though it may seem that police have a disproportionate amount of power in any interaction, there are rules that law enforcement must follow.

For example, checks and balances exist to prevent officers from abusing their power to detain individuals. An officer must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before making a traffic stop.

What constitutes reasonable suspicion?

Most traffic stops start when an officer finds a reason to detain a driver for violating traffic rules. However, a driver doesn’t need to explicitly violate a traffic law for an officer to suspect a crime. Several actions may cause an officer to have reasonable suspicion that a motorist is impair, including:

  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Straddling the center line
  • Braking often
  • Stopping in the roadway without reason
  • Making an illegal turn
  • Driving erratically or extremely slow
  • Nearly hitting other vehicles, objects or people

These actions may be enough for an officer to justify pulling someone over the driver over for a DUI.

How is probable cause different from reasonable suspicion?

While reasonable suspicion can enable an officer to begin an investigation, it doesn’t mean he has the right to make an arrest.

Before an arrest occurs, police must establish probable cause, which elevates the standard an officer must meet. Enough evidence that you probably committed a crime, in this case driving under the influence, must exist. Field sobriety tests and breath tests are supposed to provide that evidence. Reasonable suspicion only requires that you might have committed a crime.

If the traffic stop turns out to be valid, the next step involves questioning any field sobriety tests or breath tests conducted at the scene. Field sobriety tests often turn out to be unreliable. Breath testing machines require routine maintenance and calibration. If officers don’t receive the proper training, they might not perform either of these tests correctly.

Get an attorney on your side as soon as possible

In order to challenge an arrest for DUI effectively, you should consider bringing in a Colorado criminal defense attorney as quickly as you can. A conviction for DUI could affect much more than just the possibility of paying fines, serving time in jail or any other criminal penalty. It could affect your personal and professional lives in ways you might not foresee at this time. In addition to conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding your arrest, he or she might provide you with other options to resolve your situation in the best way possible.