What’s considered reasonable suspicion for police stopping a car?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2021 | Drunk Driving Accidents

In the Virginia Beach area, it’s common for police to pull drivers over. However, to legally do that, they must have reasonable suspicion to stop you. It’s important to know your rights and what constitutes reasonable suspicion.

What is reasonable suspicion?

Sometimes, the police designate DWI checkpoints to stop drivers and question them when they suspect they might be driving while intoxicated. However, when checkpoints are not in place, the police cannot simply stop a driver for no good reason. This is where reasonable suspicion comes into play.

Reasonable suspicion is when a police officer sees a driver and believes that they might have performed some type of criminal activity. If the officer stops the vehicle and has the driver exit, they can then ask the person to submit to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test. However, there must be a valid reason why the officer suspects the person of DWI.

What are examples of reasonable suspicion to stop a driver?

There are certain observations a police officer can make when pulling someone over for reasonable suspicion. If the officer believes the individual is committing a DWI, the following give them reasonable suspicion to stop them:

• Braking frequently and abruptly
• Running a red light or stop sign
• Swerving in and out of lanes
• Driving too slowly
• Driving erratically
• Speeding or racing
• Suddenly stopping in the middle of the road for no reason
• Making an illegal turn
• Driving over the centerline of the road
• Almost hitting other vehicles or objects

Is reasonable suspicion the same as probable cause?

Reasonable suspicion is often confused with probable cause. Reasonable suspicion gives the officer the right to stop a driver. However, the officer cannot arrest the person without having probable cause. Probable cause means that there is sufficient evidence that shows that the individual has committed a crime. The officer can’t simply go with their gut and make an arrest.

If an officer stops a driver and makes them take a breath test and the person’s blood alcohol concentration or BAC is higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent, they can then make an arrest. At the same time, the officer must have had probable cause to administer the test in the first place.

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