Drunk driving causes thousands of accidents and hundreds of fatalities every year in Illinois. For this reason, tackling drunk driving is a top priority for law enforcement.
Police officers have a number of powers at their disposal to tackle drunk driving, including conducting traffic stops. Can they do this at random?
Reasonable suspicion in DUI cases
Police officers cannot stop drivers at random. They must have a legitimate reason to do so, otherwise known as reasonable suspicion.
Reasonable suspicion could stem from a number of factors, but it tends to involve unusual driving behaviors. For instance, if a driver appears unable to stick within the appropriate lane, and crosses the center line, this could amount to reasonable suspicion.
Essentially, any form of erratic driving behavior could count as reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed. The presence of reasonable suspicion gives officers the authority to carry out a traffic stop. Can they make an arrest at this point?
Reasonable suspicion is not enough to make an arrest. To arrest someone on suspicion of driving under the influence, officers must satisfy the higher evidential standard of probable cause. Probable cause means that there is hard evidence of criminal activity. For instance, if the driver failed a breathalyzer test. At this point, an arrest can be made.
An arrest itself does not mean guilt. It’s possible that law enforcement did not conduct the stop in the appropriate manner. The breathalyzer test may have been faulty or incorrectly administered.
When facing DUI charges, it’s imperative that you have proper legal guidance. This will help you build the most suitable defense strategy in your circumstances.