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Did that cop have reasonable suspicion to stop me for DUI?

Louisiana drivers may wonder what types of actions behind the wheel constitute reasonable suspicion to be stopped by the police for suspicion of driving under the influence.

With the exception of controversial DUI checkpoints, law enforcement officers must have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is taking — or has taken — place in order to stop motorists.

When officers with reasonable suspicion stop drivers on Louisiana roads, they can detain them only briefly to investigate whether their suspicions bear them out. If so, the incident escalates and the officer may request that the motorist complete a field sobriety test.

Sometimes these highway detentions can also include blood alcohol content tests using Breathalyzer devices that measure the amount of alcohol in the driver's blood, if any.

Because all drunk driving arrests stem from law enforcement officers' reasonable suspicions of criminal activities on the part of the drivers, it's especially important for the criminal defense attorney to determine that the original stop was lawful.

While there are more examples of reasonable suspicions of impaired driving than can be addressed here, below are some common examples Louisiana law enforcement might list as reasonable suspicion to stop a motorist for drunken driving.

-- Having one or more near misses with stationary objects or other automobiles

-- Making illegal turns

-- Drifting over the center line, or from lane to lane

-- Braking often

-- Driving erratically or far too slowly

-- Stopping for no apparent reason in the road

Police also can further investigate upon reasonable suspicion of driver impairment after initially stopping a driver for an unrelated matter, e.g., a burned-out tail light.

Police don't even have to see the person actually driving to establish reasonable suspicion of drunk driving. This happens frequently after an accident occurs and when drivers pass out behind the wheel.

If you are charged with DUI in Louisiana, a criminal defense attorney can attempt to get the initial stop — and subsequent arrest — thrown out on a technicality.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Reasonable Suspicion for a DUI Stop?," accessed April 21, 2017

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