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How does reasonable suspicion factor into a DUI arrest?

| Mar 9, 2021 | Criminal Law |

Many people in Maryland have had to deal with a drunk driving charge. Perhaps they were unaware that they’d consumed enough alcohol to cause impairment and now have an arrest and conviction record that can significantly damage their life. Although law enforcement generally deserves respect, the police are not infallible and sometimes pull over drivers without following proper protocols. If an officer does not have reasonable suspicion to pull someone over, there may be reason to dismiss resulting DUI charges. Here is what to know about reasonable suspicion and how it pertains to drunk driving arrests.

Defining and understanding reasonable suspicion

First, reasonable suspicion means that an officer has an objective reason to believe that a person has committed or is committing a crime. For example, a police officer witnesses a suspect repeatedly looking into a business as though he or she is “casing” the place. The officer would be allowed to approach that suspect, ask questions and temporarily have that person in custody.

When it comes to drunk driving, often a police officer may have reasonable suspicion that a driver is intoxicated because of poor driving behavior. The driver may drift into or fail to maintain his or her lane, brake excessively or even have a near miss with another vehicle. Another time the police may have reasonable suspicion is if the officer has pulled over the driver for some other reason but then witnesses behavior from the driver that may indicate intoxication, such as slurred speech.

A drunk driving charge is a serious matter

Even after reasonable suspicion is established, there are more standards to meet for a drunk driving arrest. Failing to meet these standards could be enough reason to have a DUI charge dismissed. Since being charged with drunk driving can irreparably change a person’s life, it may be worth talking with a criminal defense attorney to determine whether this may be an option or what other strategy for defense may be best. Either way, here in Maryland, people are entitled to their day in court to have their case heard.

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