In order to legally stop a motorist, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion of unlawful conduct. There are multiple bits of evidence that could lead an officer to have reasonable suspicion, and therefore what constitutes reasonable suspicion can vary dramatically. If you have been cited for a DUI and would like to discuss the legality of your stop, reach out to an Orange County DUI attorney.
Articulable and reasonable suspicion
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that in order to stop a car the officer needs to have “articulable and reasonable suspicion” of unlawful activity. In other words, the car must have done something unlawful, viewed by the officer, in order to justify the stop. This is different than probable cause, which is the standard required to arrest a person. An Orange County DUI attorney is available to discuss with you your arrest and stop.
Though the words “articulable and reasonable suspicion” are well known in the legal community and among the police, what this phrase actually means is more difficult to pin down concretely. Determining which acts justly constitute the amorphous concept of reasonable suspicion depend on the particular facts of your case.
This difficulty is compounded by the reality of police work – a police officer must make this determination in real time. A DUI lawyer, on the other hand, can scour the record in the comfort of his office, taking a nuanced, detailed view of the overall situation that led to the stop.
It is certainly fair to recognize that the field officer’s judgment is made quickly and with the facts at hand. Nevertheless, a misapplication of those facts does not make an illegal DUI stop any less so. In recognizing that the officer’s job is not simple, an experienced DUI lawyer can respectfully relay to the court that the law must be followed. Good faith, however true it may be, cannot constitute a legally valid warrantless detention in the absence of reasonable suspicion of unlawful conduct.
To discuss your case and determine your legal options, call Mike Coffey, an Orange County DUI attorney.