A conviction for a DUI first offense in Pennsylvania may leave the defendant with six months of probation, a fine, and court-ordered treatment. Long before a conviction in court, the accused faces an arrest. The police might notice something suspicious about a person’s behavior and investigate. An officer’s assertion of “reasonable suspicion” could support the actions taken. If the court feels reasonable suspicion is lacking, things may go in the defendant’s favor.
Signs of driving drunk
Drunk drivers could present a danger since an impaired driver is prone to accidents. When the police notice a driver has difficulty controlling a vehicle, suspicions about intoxication may arise. Swaying back-and-forth across the road and other obvious problems with driving aren’t the only behaviors that may raise concerns. When someone staggers out of a bar and has a hard time getting keys out of a pocket, the would-be driver might be highly intoxicated.
What happens when a vehicle comes to a complete stop at a stop sign a little late? How about when the vehicle seems to drive slightly slower than posted limits? Such behavior might catch an officer’s attention but could fall below the legal bar for reasonable suspicion.
Reasonable suspicion and criminal law
With reasonable suspicion, an officer must establish facts that someone committed a crime. While not as high a bar as probable cause, reasonable suspicion requires more than an opinion or guess. When a vehicle moves erratically after someone pulls out of a nightclub’s parking lot, an officer may have reasonable suspicions about drunk driving.
The court may dismiss the charges if an attorney could prove that an officer lacked reasonable suspicion. Illegal arrests that violate the accused’s rights face challenges in criminal courts.