What Does Reasonable Suspicion of Drunk Driving Mean?

The term “reasonable suspicion” is not a high legal threshold to meet. It’s much lower than “probable cause.”  Since the U.S. Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, just about any traffic stop falls within this protection.

In this Drunk Drivers Rights article we will explain what “reasonable suspicion of drunk driving” means and its implications for you.

Defining Reasonable Suspicion

This vague term means that an officer sees something unusual about the way you are driving that might show impairment. It is very loosely interpreted based on state laws and federal dui laws and gives law enforcement leeway to pull over just about anyone.

In court cases, examples cited include obvious ones such as drifting into other lanes of traffic or driving onto the shoulder of the road, failing to stop or yield at signs, near-misses with other vehicles or objects and making illegal turns.

However, much more subtle examples can also be seen. These include a turn made that is wider than usual, braking more frequently than necessary, driving slightly too slow or slow reactions. These are very subjective but are used every day by police to pull over drivers on reasonable suspicion of drunk driving. A good DUI attorney will often attack the validity of what the officer considered reasonable suspicion. This can be especially effective if you took a blood test and your blood alcohol level was barely over the legal limit. Give your DUI lawyer all the facts so that he or she is best equipped to fight for you in court.

DUI Checkpoints

These remain controversial, but they are still done. Where allowed, the only reasonable suspicion involved in stopping drivers to investigate for drunk driving is that it is the holiday season or it is 2 a.m. near the downtown district where bars are located.  Remember, there are times that you can still be charged even if you aren’t drunk according to your blood alcohol content.

Reasonable Suspicion in the Court Room

This concept can play a major role in drunk driving cases, especially if your blood alcohol content was not very high. A good DUI attorney will know how to defend against specious examples of reasonable suspicion. If this term shows up in the paperwork for your DUI or DWI driving arrest, discuss your options with an experienced drunk driving attorney who will know how to defend you from the charges.