Many traffic stops that take place in Ohio begin when a law enforcement official has reason to suspect that a driver is involved in some sort of criminal activity. Motorists who question the legality of a traffic stop that subsequently led to their being charged with drunk driving may be interested in gaining a better understanding of what is required under the law in regard to the standard set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968 that is known as reasonable suspicion.
The law generally requires that an officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has taken place before initiating a stop. Without reasonable suspicion, any charges that might result from any following investigation could later be dismissed regardless of any evidence that was subsequently found. It is reasonable suspicion that allows an officer to temporarily stop and detain a motorist in order to conduct a limited investigation such as a field sobriety test or a breath test.
Although erratic driving may often provide grounds for reasonable suspicion of DUI, a traffic stop that concerns a matter of compliance could also lead to a drunk driving charge. In the event that an officer has reason to suspect drunk driving after stopping a motorist for a broken tail light or similar violation, that official may be allowed by law to investigate further.
Dependent upon the set of circumstances that surrounds each unique situation, an Ohio motorist who has been charged with drunk driving may want to challenge the legality of the initial traffic stop or otherwise determine the best course of action moving forward. After evaluating the facts of the case, a criminal defense attorney may be able to determine whether the investigating officer had prior indication that the charged individual may have committed a crime and provide counsel to the client accordingly.