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Officers must have reasonable suspicion before a DUI arrest

With the exception of DUI checkpoints, New York police officers are typically only allowed to stop motorists on the road if they have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred. For example, an officer may observe that a driver is breaking traffic laws or engaging in reckless behaviors on the road. These behaviors may include making an illegal turn, weaving in and out of traffic, driving at an excessive speed or constantly braking. Another possibility is that the driver is stopped, but asleep or unconscious at the wheel. If an officer observes these behaviors or any other signs of potentially impaired driving, they have reasonable suspicion of drunk driving and are permitted to stop the vehicle.

Once the officer has stopped the motorist, he or she can ask questions and conduct a limited investigation. If the officer still believes that the driver is under the influence of alcohol, they can then administer breathalyzer and field sobriety tests.

Before an officer can make a DUI arrest, they must have probable cause to believe that the motorist has committed a crime. Generally, if the test results indicate intoxication, the officer has probable cause to arrest the driver.

However, if an officer did not have reasonable suspicion when making the original stop, the entire DUI case may be dismissed. There are cases that occur where the officer makes a traffic stop based on a "hunch" or based on physical characteristics of the driver, rather than the driver's behavior. In such cases, a criminal defense attorney can help prove the officer stopped the driver without reasonable suspicion of a crime. Without reasonable suspicion, the arrest may be deemed unlawful, and the court may be forced to dismiss the case.

Source:, "What is Reasonable Suspicion for a DUI Stop?," accessed on March 26, 2018

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