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What constitutes reasonable suspicion for a DUI traffic stop?

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2023 | Criminal Law |

The last thing you want on your way home after a long day is for the police to pull you over on suspicion of driving while drunk. The penalties you may face if the traffic stop leads to a DUI conviction include fines, loss of driving privileges and a possible jail sentence.

If the officers violated your rights in the traffic stop, your odds of overcoming your circumstances just increased. Law enforcement must abide by specific rules before and during a DUI stop.

They must have reasonable suspicion

The police cannot stop you without reason, which must be more than a gut feeling or because you display a particular persona. Officers must have observed driving conduct that would cause a reasonable person to suspect intoxication. For example:

  • Lane drifting
  • Frequent braking
  • Erratic or slow driving
  • Performing illegal maneuvers
  • Stopping on the road without reason

If the police observe these or other questionable behaviors, they might have reasonable suspicion to stop you for a brief roadside investigation. However, they must establish probable cause before they can arrest you. Two common ways they do this are by conducting field sobriety tests and administering a breath alcohol content (BAC) test.

Protect your rights

If the police failed to establish reasonable suspicion or probable cause before arresting you for DUI, they might have violated your rights. It is possible to use law enforcement wrongdoing as an effective defense.

An ideal next step is to familiarize yourself with Montana DUI laws, putting a special focus on reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Experienced legal guidance can help you create your defense strategy.