Your Constitutional Right: The Police Stop Must Be Based on Reasonable and Articulable Suspicion

Another way that you can get a case dismissed is if the reason that the officer stops you in the first place isn’t justifiable.  He has to have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you are committing a crime when he stops you. That’s a constitutional law, that’s a right that you have against unreasonable search and seizures.

In order for the seizure, or the traffic stop in this case, to be constitutional, it has to be reasonable. In order for it to be reasonable, the officer has to have an articulable suspicion that you are doing something wrong.

For instance, if he pulls you over for speeding, then he has a good reason to suspect that you’re speeding. This could be due to the fact that he has a radar gun and it indicates that you’re traveling faster than the speed limit.

If the Police Cannot Prove a Reasonable Suspicion to Begin a DUI Investigation Following a Stop, the Case May Be Dismissed Due to an Initial Illegal Seizure

If he pulls you over just for suspicion of driving under the influence, then he’s got to have some specific things that you’ve done to buttress his suspicion. Maybe he saw you weave in a lane, and then he pulls you over for suspicion of DUI.

Well, that’s not really enough suspicion, so if he can’t convince a judge in a motion to suppress that he had the requisite suspicion to pull you over and stop you, to make the seizure reasonable, then all of the evidence from the whole case will get dismissed because everything that happens after that illegal seizure will generally be suppressed.

In that case, the state really has no choice but to dismiss because they just don’t have any evidence to show that you were actually committing a crime. There can also be issues that transpire during the police stop.

If the Police Initiate a DUI Investigation after Pulling You over for a Traffic Infraction, They Must Again Have Reasonable Suspicion to Launch the Investigation or Any Evidence They Uncover Can Be Suppressed

For example, after you have been stopped by the police for speeding you happen to be exhibiting some signs of driving under the influence. Maybe you had some alcoholic drinks, maybe you didn’t, but the officer becomes suspicious that you are driving under the influence after he pulls you over for speeding.

In order to investigate you for driving under the influence, he still has to have that same reasonable, articulable suspicion. So sometimes, an officer will just basically start a DUI investigation with no suspicion and end up arresting somebody for a DUI.

For instance, I had a client one time that committed a traffic violation. Then the officer pulled him over, and the officer claimed he smelled some sort of odor of alcohol.

He immediately starts investigating my client for DUI and he ends up arresting him. It turns out my client had consumed a glass of wine, but his blood alcohol concentration was pretty low, it was well below 0.08. However, he still ended up being arrested for DUI.

We had to go and have a motion to suppress. The way that we won was to get the evidence suppressed because the officer didn’t have enough reasonable suspicion that my client was driving under the influence to continue to investigate him after he had given him the citation for whatever the traffic violation was.

To Support or Disprove a Claim of Reasonable Suspicion, the Law Looks at the Totality of the Circumstances

Interviewer:  How do you know if there’s truly is reasonable suspicion at the time of the initial police stop? It would seem difficult to prove in many situations.

The Fourth Amendment Law

Court: Yes, it is kind of tricky. There is a case law called a fourth amendment law, and it deals with reasonable suspicion and the way that court determines whether there is reasonable suspicion legally is they look at the totality of the circumstances.

Each case is different, so it can be hard to point to certain aspects and say, “OK, well, if the officer saw you weave across the lane and then he saw you speeding and then you fumbled for your driver’s license, so that is enough reasonable suspicion.”

You have to look at the whole case and the totality of the circumstances.

By Court Koehler

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