Byron Carlson Petri & Kalb, LLC | attorneys at law

Why reasonable suspicion matters in your DUI case

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2023 | DUI

The U.S. Constitution protects you from illegal searches by law enforcement. Therefore, outside of a planned sobriety checkpoint, a police officer cannot randomly pull you over to check whether you are driving drunk. They must have justifiable reasons to do so, referred to as “reasonable suspicion.”

It does not mean that the officer must have prior information that you were drunk driving. A reasonable suspicion may be based on a traffic infraction like speeding, making an illegal turn or even driving with a broken taillight. If a police officer has sufficient reason to believe you have broken the law, they can legally pull you over.

An illegal stop can significantly affect your case

If the police pull you over on a hunch or without reasonable suspicion, it may amount to an unlawful stop. It is a violation of your constitutional rights, and it can cause a DUI charge to be dropped.

For instance, any evidence obtained from the unlawful traffic stop may be suppressed and excluded from your trial. This means that the prosecution may not be able to use breathalyzer results, field sobriety test results or any other evidence obtained after the stop to prove that you were driving under the influence. Without significant evidence, it can be hard for the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Challenging the legality of your traffic stop

It takes a review of the circumstances of your traffic stop, including the officer’s observations and any video footage that may be available, to determine whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop you.

Most importantly, you need the necessary knowledge of the legal technicalities involved in proving a violation of your rights and suppressing illegal evidence. It explains the importance of having experienced legal representation to protect your interests at all times and argue your case if you are charged with drunk driving.