Law enforcement personnel must have “reasonable suspicion” to stop and/or detain a motorist. Absent this, any resulting arrest is “pretextual” and any charge(s) are subject to summary dismissal. Moreover, any evidence obtained is inadmissible in a court of law.
“Lack of reasonable suspicion to stop” is a valid legal defense to a DUI charge. As the label implies, “reasonable suspicion” requires a rational basis. Race, physical appearance, dress, or mere presence in a particular area is insufficient legal grounds for reasonable suspicion or detention. Rather, police must have some specific objective factual basis to suspect criminal activity. Thus, the fact that you were driving in an area where there are many bars during the wee morning hours does not, by itself, constitute reasonable suspicion to stop.
David Cantor explains the DUI Defense, No Reasonable Suspicion to Stop:
Arizona’s controlling legal precedent on reasonable suspicion to stop is a case called Livingston v. State of Arizona. In that case, officers from a specialized drug task force claimed to have seen the defendant weave six inches across the yellow line three times. At the time, the motorist was driving through a large curved area of highway near Globe, Arizona at about 50 miles per hour. During the subsequent vehicle stop and search, officers found several hundred pounds of marijuana.
The court later rejected the officers’ “hunch” based on the motorist’s alleged erratic driving and race as insufficient legal justification to reasonably suspect illegal activity. Consequently, it ruled the initial stop “pretextual” and dismissed the entire case.
We frequently see similar scenarios in DUI cases. For instance, a common situation involves an officer staked out near a local bar who claims that our client weaved in the road, made a California stop, or improper turn. We are able to get many of those DUI charges dismissed due to lack of reasonable suspicion to stop. See the “Victory” section for details about specific cases we have won in such instances.
Contact us today via email or phone for a free initial consultation and expert case evaluation. DM Cantor is available 24 hours a day by calling (602) 307-0808 or via our secure and confidential web form.