Reasonable suspicion is a legal concept that is largely lost when a police officer is interrogating a suspect for potential criminal activity. The courts have continually held that officers have broad interpretation latitude when questioning anyone, including the fact that someone may appear nervous at the time. Many people become nervous when talking to police about anything merely due to the power to arrest and their potentially unquestioned testimony in court. Many cases in Arkansas are prosecuted on police testimony alone because of this wide discretion, and it also happens with DWI arrests.
Alcohol DWI interrogation
Being questioned following a traffic stop when the police suspect driving under the influence is a prime example of when an officer can claim reasonable suspicion when testifying in a hearing. The smell of alcohol alone establishes reasonable suspicion of driving while intoxicated. This also justifies an officer’s request to inspect a vehicle. However, criminal defense attorneys stress that any sobriety testing should only be done when the driver has exhibited physical signs of inebriation beyond alcohol odor or possession.
Non-alcohol DWI interrogation
Drivers who are questioned during a traffic stop and have not been drinking alcohol fall into a different category for DWI investigations. Officers can claim they observed driving irregularities in establishing reasonable suspicion to make the stop, but the lack of alcohol changes the investigation significantly. While the officer’s claims of incoherence or nervousness can still be used as reasonable suspicion to continue questioning, criminal defense attorneys in Arkansas point out that police will still need a warrant from a judge to withdraw blood samples for supporting material evidence.
While the lack of reasonable suspicion can be argued, it is not always a successful defense by itself. Other tactics could include questioning the reliability of the breath tests that were administered.