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A valid drunk driving stop may require reasonable suspicion

| Mar 24, 2020 | Drunk Driving |

In Ohio, drivers who are stopped by law enforcement and are investigated for driving under the influence will have concerns. In Ohio, the term under the law is operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI). After an arrest, dealing with the situation can be complicated. Therefore, it is wise to understand the law regarding traffic stops and their validity under the law.

Law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion to make an OVI stop. This will allow for a brief detention and a limited investigation. If there is sufficient justification, the officer can give the driver a breathalyzer test to determine the blood-alcohol concentration and a field sobriety test. If the officer was lacking in reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop or to pursue the investigation, this could be a viable defense to have the charges dismissed.

Drivers who are on the center line of the road, make an illegal maneuver, are drifting, drive slowly or erratically, brake unnecessarily, or stop in the road for no reason could be stopped for reasonable suspicion. There are many other reasons for an officer to make a stop. The person does not even need to be driving at the time to be investigated. Falling asleep in a stopped vehicle is likely enough.

There is a difference between reasonable suspicion and probable cause. When there is an arrest, there must be probable cause meaning there needs to be evidence that a violation has occurred. That can include failing a field sobriety test or registering a high enough BAC level. Reasonable suspicion centers around a violation possibly being committed and warranting further investigation. Formulating an effective defense for drunk driving charges might include questioning the validity of the investigation. A law firm experienced in OVI cases may be able to help.