Sometimes people accused of a DUI are accused with few facts to back the charge. Sometimes people are stopped by police officers who did not have a reasonable suspicion that the driver committed a wrongdoing before pulling that person over.
Being accused of a DUI can result in a number of consequences, including a conviction, financial penalties and even damage to a person's reputation. Therefore, when a person has been wrongly accused of a crime or believes that the charge is unwarranted, it's imperative that he or she take action to protect his or her rights.
Allegations supported with little evidence
Recently, a Centreville man was charged by Virginia State Police for driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, disregarding a red light and resisting arrest. Shortly after those charges were filed, Fairfax County officers charged the man with felony hit and run, malicious wounding and driving on a suspended license.
The police allege that the accused man tailgated and rear-ended a Honda driving in front of him, then pulled alongside the Honda and side-swiped it. Afterwards, the man allegedly sped-off and fled the scene according to police. The only reported evidence connecting the man with the damage to the Honda was that the driver of the Honda supposedly was able to copy the license plate, which was later reported to police.
The felony hit and run charge and malicious wounding charge are serious charges, and the only reported evidence linking the man and the Honda together is the reported license plate number, which may or may not have been correct. The man now faces a DUI charge that may be due to the license plate report to the police. A DUI conviction has serious penalties.
Breakdown of reasonable suspicion
In order to be stopped by a police officer and arrested for a DUI, the police officer must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Examples of reasonable suspicion include, but are not limited to, the following:
•Crossing from one lane to another
•Straddling the center line
•Frequently tapping on the brakes
•Nearly swiping objects on the roadside such as cars
If an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a crime may have taken place, he or she may stop and briefly detain the accused individual in order to conduct a limited investigation. After the initial investigation, the officer can carry out a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test if he or she still suspects the motorist of driving under the influence.
In the case described above, it is questionable as to whether or not the police would have had reasonable suspicion to pull the man over without the license plate report.
An attorney specializing in DWI/DUI defense can provide individuals charged with a DUI the knowledge and experience needed to protect the individual's rights and provide an aggressive defense.