Legal cases involving traffic stops have continuously reaffirmed a fundamental principle: Someone can only be pulled over if the police officer in question has “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has been or is being committed. This is the case across the entire country, including in Florida.
As such, it is vitally important that everyone, particularly those who have been charged with DUI, understand what reasonable suspicion means and how it applies to DUI arrests. Indeed, one of the first things that your legal counsel may ask you is the circumstances under which you were arrested.
What is reasonable suspicion?
From a criminal law context, reasonable suspicion is the idea that a police officer can only issue a traffic stop if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that you are violating some law. The standard is low and can be something as minor as driving with a busted taillight. However, if a traffic stop is going to be prolonged, such as if you are to be tested for DUI, the officer in question must have some sort of evidence that you are committing a crime in addition to driving with a broken taillight.
How does this apply to DUIs?
When it comes to a DUI arrest, a police officer can only pull you over if you are driving erratically or violating some sort of traffic law. From there, if they have reasonable suspicion when examining the totality of circumstances surrounding your behavior and the traffic stop, they may be legally entitled to test you for DUI. However, in most cases, if you are not violating any laws, an officer cannot just randomly pull you over and test you.
The idea behind “reasonable suspicion” is an important concept to protect your rights. Police have authority to make traffic stops, but they must be responsible in how they exercise it.