'Reasonable suspicion' and DUI stops in Colorado

Our readers in Colorado probably know that police officers who are on routine traffic patrol cannot just pull a motorist over for any reason whatsoever. There is a web of complex constitutional law interpretation behind this seemingly simple proposition, but, what is boils down to is that in order for a police officer to pull over a driver in Colorado, that officer, particularly for a DUI stop, must have "reasonable suspicion" that the driver in question broke the law.

Unfortunately, the term "reasonable suspicion" isn't exactly a clear, definable term. Many police officers develop keen powers of observation over many years of service which help them learn the tendencies that might indicate that criminal behavior has or is occurring, but when it comes to DUI stops the reasoning behind the initiation of the stop can be relatively simple.

In essence, if a police officer observes a driver committing even the slightest of traffic violations, such as swerving over the centerline in a road, obstructing traffic or making an illegal turn, for example, officers are legally allowed to initiate a traffic stop. Then, during the officer's interaction with a driver, a DUI investigation may begin if circumstances warrant it.

If a police officer observes bloodshot eyes, slurred speech or smells the odor of alcoholic beverages, that officer may begin to suspect the driver could be intoxicated. But it all comes back to the reason for the stop. Anyone in Colorado who is facing DUI charges may benefit from a critical examination of the "reasonable suspicion" that purportedly supported the need for a traffic stop.

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