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Reasonable suspicion and your DWI traffic stop

When your future and your freedom are on the line after a drunk driving arrest, you would be wise to act quickly to protect your interests and find out how you can confront any criminal charges against you. Defending yourself can begin with understanding the initial traffic stop in order to determine if there was any violation of your rights.

In order for a police officer to pull over a North Carolina driver for suspected drunk driving or illegal activity, there must be reasonable suspicion to do so. If there is evidence that the police officer had no good reason to initiate the traffic stop in the first place, you could challenge the entire case against you.

What counts as reasonable suspicion?

Every drunk driving arrest must begin with a law enforcement officer's suspicion that a driver may be intoxicated. They receive training to look for certain behaviors and have grounds to pull over any driver if they notice any of the following:

  • Vehicle straddling the center line
  • Extremely slow or erratic driving
  • Making illegal turns
  • Drifting from lane to lane
  • Almost hitting other cars or stationary objects
  • Braking frequently and unnecessarily
  • Stopping in the road for no reason

Police officers have the right to use their judgment when determining if an action counts as suspicious or not, even if the behavior is not on the above list. Sometimes, a traffic stop for a malfunctioning brake light or speeding could lead the officer to believe that the driver may be intoxicated, which would also be considered reasonable suspicion.

Probable cause for an arrest

While reasonable suspicion is appropriate grounds for a suspected DWI traffic stop, an officer cannot make an arrest without sufficient probable cause. This is a higher standard, and there must be ample evidence of wrongdoing, such as multiple failed field sobriety tests or a failed Breathalyzer. Without probable cause, an officer cannot make an arrest.

Confronting criminal charges against you

You may think that it is either not possible or not necessary to fight a DUI charge. In reality, there is much at stake for you, whether this is your first offense or you have multiple DWIs on your record. If you believe that there was no reasonable suspicion for your traffic stop or that you experienced a violation of your personal rights, you would be wise to take quick action to protect your interests.

With the help of an experienced defense attorney, you may be able to effectively challenge the evidence against you and fight for a dismissal of any pending charges.

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Brannen & Walker Attorneys at law

141 Union Street S
Concord, NC 28025

Phone: 704-594-4128
Fax: 866-413-9893
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