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How Reasonable Suspicion Works

Published on June 29th, 2019


All citizens are guaranteed certain rights, and it is important for you to understand them. In particular, there are two concepts that anyone accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, or other mind altering substance, should understand. These concepts are reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion essentially just means you cannot be investigated unless a police officer has a reason to be suspicious of you. You cannot have your car searched, or even be pulled over, unless there is a reason the police officer suspects you are breaking the law. If you are pulled over without reasonable suspicion, you cannot be arrested or tried, even if some wrongdoing is discovered. Examples of realistic reasonable suspicion include:

  • Driving erratically
  • Colliding with cars or objects
  • Driving too slow or fast
  • Breaking the rules of the road

If you suspect that you were pulled over without reasonable suspicion, you should tell your DUI lawyer. Your charges may be invalid if that is indeed the case.

Probable Cause

Probable cause is similar to reasonable suspicion, but it applies to the requirement for arrest, rather than the requirement for being investigated. Just like how a police officer cannot pull you over without reasonable suspicion, a police officer cannot arrest you without probable cause. The qualifications for probable cause are stricter than those for reasonable suspicion as well. There needs to be real evidence before you can be arrested, rather than only suspicion. Examples of probable cause include:

  • A failed sobriety test
  • Drunken behavior
  • Admission of guilt

Essentially, a police officer needs reasonable suspicion first in order to pull a driver over. Then, the officer needs to find probable cause to make an arrest. If this process is not followed exactly, the citizen cannot be charged. This is one of the very first things that will be established in a court of law. No matter what, you should never resist arrest, however. Even if there is no probable cause, resisting arrest is a crime. The initial charges may be thrown out, but you will still be charged with resisting arrest, no matter how irrational that may seem. You simply need to trust that the truth will come out.

A DUI lawyer in Bloomington, IL will be able to explain these concepts in more detail, and explain how they all apply to your unique situation. The first step you should take if you have been charged with a DUI is to hire an attorney. It is a very bad idea to attempt to represent yourself.


Contact Pioletti & Pioletti for more insight into criminal law and how reasonable suspicion works.


Joe Pioletti
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