Courtney has today’s blog entry – and she looks at probable cause.
I just found out I’ve been driving around with only one working tail light and it got me thinking about reasonable suspicion and DUI. The only thing a police officer needs to pull you over is reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed. One of the most common complaints we hear when a person has been charged with driving under the influence is that their driving was fine, they can’t imagine why the officer had reason to pull them over, and it must be entrapment. Reasonable suspicion is easy. It can be as obvious as my burned out tail light or as minute as not having a turn signal on for at least five seconds after a stop sign (which is the law in Idaho, by the way). Most DUI stops occur early in the morning after the bars have closed. People cry entrapment because an officer parked near the bar and followed them after leaving. That’s not entrapment. Just leaving the parking lot of a bar is not generally enough for an officer to pull you over. They’ll just follow you for a bit and wait until you do something that gives them the right to pull you over. There’s your reasonable suspicion. Once you’re pulled over for "weaving inside the lane" or going one mile over the speed limit, they’ve got a chance to see if you’re under the influence. Stop leads to field sobriety tests, a breathalyzer demand and maybe – a DUI.
Here’s one more thought: When a police officer pulls you over, what is the first thing he or she always asks? Even before you’re asked for your license and registration, it’s the same question every time.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?”
And do you know what you should say every time they ask you? NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. The officers are looking for an admission. They want you to tell them why they should have pulled you over. If they’ve got you for failing to use your blinker and you tell them you were speeding, how many tickets do you suppose you’ll get? My guess is two.
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Charged with a DUI and wonder if the stop was legit? Give us a call.