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When can police officers conduct a drunk driving stop?

by | Nov 23, 2021 | Drunk Driving

People often assume that police officers can stop their car for any reason, but this isn’t the case. Police officers must have reasonable suspicion if they’re going to conduct a traffic stop when they think someone is driving while they’re impaired. 

The standard of reasonable suspicion isn’t very hard to meet. In the simplest of terms, it means that the officer saw something that led them to believe that you were too impaired to drive. They can’t conduct an arrest based on reasonable suspicion. Instead, they need probable cause.

What’s the difference between reasonable suspicion and probable cause?

The main difference between probable cause and reasonable suspicion is that there needs to be some sort of evidence to meet the standard of probable cause. It’s much easier to meet the standard of reasonable suspicion. 

For example, an officer could initiate a traffic stop if a vehicle is swerving between lanes or moving erratically. The officer would then need to determine why the vehicle is doing that. If they suspect the driver is impaired, they can request a chemical test to determine the blood alcohol concentration. 

If their breath test is above the legal limit, the driver can be arrested because the police now have “probable cause” to believe that a crime was committed. If it’s found that the person is having a medical crisis, such as an issue with their blood sugar, they can’t be arrested because they didn’t break the law. 

If you’re facing charges for impaired driving, you must ensure that you take swift action. You have to think about the criminal charges, as well as the administrative penalties of this type of charge. Working with someone who knows the options and can help you determine what’s best for you can help to take the stress off you.