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What are reasonable suspicion and probable cause with DUI cases?

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If a police officer did not have "reasonable suspicion" that you were committing a crime, the officer cannot pull you over and conduct a drunk driving stop. This is the case even if you shouldn't have been driving.

The legal requirement of "reasonable suspicion" is vital for anyone charged with drunk driving in Missouri. Did the police officer have a good reason to stop you? If not, you might be able to get your charges thrown out.

What counts as reasonable suspicion?

If an officer observes specific behaviors or circumstances, he or she can pull someone over and detain the person to conduct a limited investigation. For example, if the suspicion relates to possible drunk driving, the officer may perform a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test.

The kinds of driving observations that might count as reasonable suspicion for DUI include:

  • Crossing the center line or driving on rumble stripes
  • Making an illegal turn
  • Drifting outside of his or her lane
  • Almost hitting another car or an obstacle
  • Driving too fast, too slow or erratically
  • Constantly using the brake
  • Stopping or slowing suddenly in the middle of the road for no observable reason

This list is not complete. In fact, there are countless things that could qualify as "reasonable suspicion." An officer might also stop a driver for a type of violation, and then notice a reason to suspect that the driver is drunk after smelling his or her breath or looking at his or her eyes.

What about probable cause?

Reasonable suspicion refers to the reasons for conducting an investigation. Probable cause refers to the officer having sufficient evidence to make an arrest and accuse the individual of committing a crime. In this respect, after the officer has reasonable suspicion to perform the investigation, and after the investigation yields enough evidence, the officer will then have probable cause to arrest the person.

Is reasonable suspicion or probable cause an issue in your case?

If the arrested officer in your DUI matter did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause, it might be possible for you to get your charges dropped. By carefully organizing their criminal defense, accused drivers may find that they can improve their legal situations considerably.

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