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Was the stop that led to my DUI legal?

No one likes to be stopped by police. In fact, it can be a very scary situation to see the red and blue lights flashing in your rear mirror. Once you realize you are being pulled over, your mind can start racing with questions like, "What did I do wrong?" and "Will I have to pay a ticket or go to jail?"

If you have recently had an alcoholic drink, you can be even more concerned about a traffic stop because it could end with an arrest for drunk driving and serious criminal penalties. However, if you are or have recently been in this situation, it is crucial to remember you have rights and there are strict procedures that must be followed when it comes to DUI stops. For instance, police typically can't just pull you over for no reason. Reasonable suspicion must be established.

The concept of reasonable suspicion ensures that motorists won't get pulled over arbitrarily. In order for an officer to conduct a traffic stop, he or she must have some indication that you as a motorist might have committed a crime.

In the context of a DUI, this means that an officer can pull you over for violating traffic laws or exhibiting unsafe behaviors, however minor they may be. Some common examples of these actions that can prompt a stop include:

  • Not wearing a seat belt
  • Driving too slowly or too fast
  • Swerving
  • Rolling through or ignoring stop lights and stop signs
  • Driving with expired tabs
  • Missing brake, tail or head lights

An officer who observes these things may have grounds to suspect that the driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol and conduct a traffic stop.

However, one of the common ways that a DUI charge can ultimately be challenged is by arguing that this initial stop was not conducted properly and that there was no reasonable suspicion established prior to pulling a driver over. If it can be argued that the officer lacked this reasonable suspicion, the rest of the stop would be unlawful and the resulting charges could be dismissed.

In order to explore if this is a possible defense strategy for your individual case, it can be crucial to discuss the specific circumstances surrounding your charges with an attorney.

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