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Police can't just stop anyone for drunk driving

Pennsylvania residents who have ever been pulled over for suspected impairment may have some questions about their encounters with police. Law enforcement officers cannot just pull anyone over for drunk driving. There has to be just cause for taking such action.

In order for a police officer to pull a person over to check for impairment, there has to be reasonable suspicion of impairment. Without reasonable suspicion, any DUI charges filed against a person may be dismissed. What exactly constitutes reasonable suspicion?

There are several observations about one's driving that may give a police officer reasonable suspicion. The list is pretty lengthy, and it is impossible to address every scenario in this type of forum. A few examples include:

  • Inability to maintain one's lane of traffic
  • Illegal turn
  • Erratic or slow driving
  • Frequent braking

Not all traffic violations are associated with drunk driving. If an officer initiates a routine traffic stop due to some type of traffic violation, a DUI arrest cannot actually be made without probable cause. To establish probable cause, the officer will need some type of proof of impairment -- such as a failed field sobriety or Breathalyzer test.

Drunk driving is a serious crime in Pennsylvania. The state is not likely to treat DUI cases lightly. This does not mean that fighting DUI charges is impossible. If there is a reason to believe that an officer lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop, it may be possible to get charges dropped. An experienced attorney will have the ability to review the details of one's case and help one choose the best legal course of action.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Reasonable Suspicion for a DUI Stop?", Accessed on May 29, 2018

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