DWI and reasonable suspicion

Drivers in North Carolina may be stopped while driving when the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the driver may be impaired. A police officer may pull someone over only when the
officer’s suspicion can be clearly articulated. These suspicions can sometimes be challenged by attorneys when it is not completely clear that the police officer made the appropriate decision to stop the driver. When faced with an arrest for a DWI in North Carolina, it is critical to consult with North Carolina criminal lawyers to understand your future options.

In North Carolina, a reasonable suspicion to pull someone over must be something that is well-defined and something that the police officer can explain. For example, the vehicle may not have its correct taillights on, the vehicle may be driving erratically by speeding up or slowing down frequently, or the driver may be swerving on the road. A driver may be stopped and arrested for a DWI in North Carolina after showing only one of these driving behaviors.

Recently in Sampson County, this reasonable suspicion was defined even further to include weaving in just one lane. The NC Court of Appeals upheld a DWI in North Carolina in March 2012. In this case, the driver of the vehicle weaved within the lane multiple times over a short distance. The police officer also observed that drivers traveling the opposite direction (in the other lane) had to move away from the impaired driver because of how often the vehicle was weaving.

In earlier cases where the weaving occurred within only one lane, the North Carolina court decided to dismiss the DWI. In this instance, the officer’s suspicion was determined to be reasonable due to the frequency of the weaving as well as its effect on other cars. The police officer’s higher level of experience was also a factor in deciding to uphold the DWI arrest.

In North Carolina, an arrest for a DWI is a serious charge. It is important to understand exactly how reasonable suspicion is defined and may be disputed in a particular driver’s case. A driver who has been charged with this infraction should discuss the DWI arrest with attorneys in North Carolina experienced in this kind of law.