There are a lot of ways for the police to make a mistake that leads to a case being dismissed. One of these potential mistakes involves their decision to make the traffic stop in the first place. If the traffic stop was illegal, then any evidence against you as a result of the stop could be discarded, leaving the prosecutor with very few arguments. You may think that police have the right to stop anyone they want to for any reason or no reason, but this is not the case. In order to pull a person over, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are doing something illegal. We start every DUI case by reviewing the alleged grounds for the stop in order to determine whether we can use an illegal stop as the basis of a legal defense.
Defining Reasonable Suspicion
The reasonable suspicion standard is based in the U.S. constitution. It is a rather low bar. The officer must be able to show that there were objective reasons he suspected that you were breaking the law and that his suspicion was reasonable. This standard is meant to prevent police from profiling drivers or harassing people who do not seem to be doing anything wrong.
Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on an officer’s instinct or feelings. This would be far too easily abused. If that were the case, police officers could stop anyone at any time and claim he or she had a gut feeling that there was criminal activity going on.
The officer does not have to specifically suspect that you are drunk. If you are stopped for a more mundane reason, like having a tail light out, and turn out to be driving intoxicated, the stop is still valid.
Reasonable grounds for a DUI suspicion stop include:
- Swerving – While weaving within your own lane is not grounds for a stop, swerving in and out of your lane is.
- Turn signal – Drunk drivers tend to forget that their turn signal is on and keep going, or use the wrong signal.
- Aggressive driving – Drunk drivers can be very aggressive. Tailgating, recklessly passing another car, or trying to run another driver off the road can create reasonable suspicion that the driver is breaking the law.
- Any traffic infraction – Speeding, missing a light, failing to signal a turn.
If it is determined that you were illegally stopped, then the police would not be able to use any of the evidence they found by unlawfully stopping you.
Call a Will County DUI Lawyer
Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. is skilled at constructing strong DUI defenses. Our experienced Will County DUI attorneys will carefully assess everything that happened the night you were arrested. Contact us at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.