DUI’s in Pennsylvania: When is a traffic stop justified?

A driver cannot be driving under the influence if he or she is not driving to begin with. Accordingly, most DUI cases begin with a traffic stop. When is law enforcement justified in making a stop of a driver?

The short answer is that law enforcement can effect a stop when law enforcement has “reasonable suspicion” to do so. The term reasonable suspicion raises more questions than it answers. Erratic driving, such as repeated lane changes, would seem to be a basis for reasonable suspicion. Yet, some Pennsylvania cases have held that mere erratic driving alone, without more, is not enough to make a stop.

Speeding violations would seem to be an automatic violation that would give rise to reasonable suspicion for a stop. Yet, a speeding violation, without more, may not be enough to hold a motorist and eventually arrest a motorist for driving under the influence. This is especially true when the basis for the speeding violation is itself shaky.

If you have been charged with a DUI, do not assume that the stop was automatically valid. Consult with an attorney to find out more.