There are certain rules that apply in order for a police officer to make a lawful DUI traffic stop. Your Grand Rapids DUI attorney has outlined below the personal observation requirement for reasonable suspicion in the case of DUI stops.
What Is Reasonable Suspicion?
In order to be in lawful, DUI stops must be conducted only if the officer has reasonable suspicion that a violation has occurred. The word reasonable itself is objective in nature and, as a result, can be interpreted differently by different officers. Additionally, several states offer differing interpretations as to what is considered reasonable suspicion. Generally, an officer will be considered to have had reasonable suspicion if he viewed the violation himself.
Personal Observation of a Traffic Violation
An officer’s personal observation of a violation is generally considered to rise to the level of reasonable suspicion. As such, an officer will be justified in conducting a DUI stop if he witnessed the motorist driving in such a way that would indicate impairment.
The Supreme Court’s Interpretation
In one case dealing with DUI traffic stops the Supreme Court stated that stops justified only by license and registration checks are not reasonable. An officer cannot simply stop a driver who has not committed any observable violations. If, though, the officer believes the driver may be unlicensed or driving an unregistered vehicle then the stop is allowable under the reasonable suspicion rule. The Supreme Court specifically used the phrase “articulable and reasonable suspicion” as the requirement for an officer to conduct the traffic stop.
Is Reasonable Suspicion the Same as Probable Cause?
This is a question your attorney is asked frequently, as most people know probable cause to be the standard for lawful arrests. However, reasonable suspicion is a lower threshold than probable cause. A traffic stop is simply a detention and, thus, falls short of arrest. Officers do not need to have the same level of suspicion to detain an individual for a short time to determine if a crime has, in fact, been committed.
Was My DUI Stop Lawful?
This is, of course, a question to discuss in detail with your Grand Rapids DUI attorney. Police officers are regularly forced to make split second decisions while in the field. Regardless of earnest efforts to employ the proper standard for DUI stops, some officers fail to do so. It is important to go over your DUI stop in detail with your attorney in order to determine if it was made in compliance with all requirements.
Speak to Your Grand Rapids DUI Attorney About Your DUI Stop
If you have been stopped by an officer for DUI and believe that it was an unlawful detention for any reason, it is important to contact a Grand Rapids DUI attorney to discuss the appropriate course of action. For more information, call Miel & Carr PLC at (616) 773-2945.