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Investigative Detention and Reasonable Suspicion: What Are Your Rights During This Process?

Kevin: Getting back to investigatory detentions, before an investigative detention, an officer has to have reasonable suspicion that a crime took place or that a traffic violation occurred.

Once the officer has reasonable suspicion, then he or she can stop the motor vehicle. The officer can initiate the investigation by asking for documentation and questions concerning alcohol consumption or any other suspected criminal activity.

The officer can ask somebody to get out of the vehicle to do field sobriety tests only after there is some type of reasonable suspicion present to go further in the investigation.

A police officer needs to have some type of suspicion of alcohol consumption, based on, for example, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, fumbling of documentation, and a discernible odor of alcohol or admission of consumption of alcohol.

Then, an officer can have somebody get out of the vehicle and ask that person to do field sobriety tests. If there isn’t reasonable suspicion for that, then the results of the field sobriety tests can be thrown out as evidence.

Reasonable Suspicion and Drug Recognition Evaluations

The same goes for drug recognition evaluations. An officer needs to have reasonable suspicion that the person is under the influence of some type of drug before the evaluation can be conducted.

Of course, a driver can refuse to participate in a field sobriety test or a drug recognition evaluation, but the officer shouldn’t even be asking the driver to engage in these tests unless there is some type of, as I said, reasonable suspicion.

By Kevin Leckerman

Attorney Kevin Lekerman
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