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Beware of reasonable suspicion on New Year’s Eve

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

As New Year’s Eve approaches, drivers need to understand the concept of reasonable suspicion as it applies to drunk driving stops. This legal standard directly impacts how and why law enforcement officers can stop vehicles to investigate potential drunk driving.

Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard that allows police officers to make an initial stop or conduct a brief investigation based on specific facts that indicate a crime may be occurring.

Reasonable suspicion in drunk driving stops

On New Year’s Eve, police are especially vigilant for signs of impaired driving. Indicators that can lead to a reasonable suspicion of drunk driving include:

  • Swerving
  • Speeding
  • Driving too slowly
  • Braking irregularly
  • Violating traffic laws

New Year’s Eve is known for celebrations that often include alcohol. Consequently, law enforcement officers are generally on high alert for signs of drunk driving and will be swift to initiate traffic stops.

Probable cause in drunk driving stops

Reasonable suspicion only justifies a stop and a limited investigation. If during a stop, the officer develops probable cause, which is a higher standard of evidence, that leads them to believe someone is driving under the influence, they may conduct an arrest.

Probable cause could be based on observations such as:

  • Odor of alcohol
  • Visible open containers
  • Driver’s performance on field sobriety tests
  • Results of chemical test

For those involved in a drunk driving incident on New Year’s Eve, understanding the nuances of reasonable suspicion can be crucial in legal defense strategies. Ultimately, questioning the validity of an initial stop can be a consequential approach for many.