Drunk driving charges in Wisconsin can bring serious penalties that can change the course of a person’s life. If you are facing an OWI, you would be wise to take your situation seriously, whether it is your first offense or you have other convictions on your record. Building a strong defense strategy is an important step toward fighting for and protecting your future interests.
One of the most important elements of any OWI defense strategy is to carefully evaluate the circumstances of the original arrest and traffic stop. If there were problems with police procedure, a violation of your personal rights or even a lack of reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place, it could undermine the entire case against you. This is why it can be useful to carefully review what behaviors may count as reasonable suspicion.
Reasons to stop a driver
Police cannot pull you over just because they want to. There must be a clear and valid reason to initiate a traffic stop; otherwise, the entire interaction is invalid and possibly illegal. Reasonable suspicion is what causes a law enforcement officer to believe that criminal activity is taking place. When it comes to stopping a driver for possible drunk driving, some of the following behaviors may count as reasonable suspicion:
- Swerving repeatedly or having trouble maintaining the lane
- Coming close to hitting parked cars or stationary objects
- Hitting another vehicle or stationary object without stopping
- Stopping in the middle of the road for no reason
- Speeding and then slowing down without cause
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Driving aggressively or erratically
Of course, this is not a complete list of reasons why police may initiate an OWI traffic stop. The law allows police the right to use their common sense and objective opinion about whether they should detain a driver. However, you have the right to challenge their interpretation of your behavior or other factors that played a role in your eventual arrest.
When it comes to facing OWI charges, the experience of your defense counsel matters. You will find it beneficial to work with an attorney who can help you understand your options and fight for your future at every step. As soon as possible after your arrest, you may want to seek a complete assessment of your case so that you can determine if you have grounds to challenge the initial traffic stop over lack of reasonable suspicion.