When should an officer initiate a stop once he believes he has reasonable suspicion? Are there any laws regarding this?
Your question is very specific. If you're looking for someone to answer that the cop made a bright line mistake you're probably not going to get it. The facts you describe would help an experienced DWI attorney assist in defending the case.
Austin DWI Lawyer
I will defer to learned TX counsel if my answer does not ring true in the Lone Star state. My answer is no there are no laws, statutory or by virtue of appellate decisions, that set a limit. An officer after perhaps having sufficient information to initiate a vehicle stop may choose for a variety of reasons to delay doing so. That breaks no law or rule; it may however provide an avenue for defense counsel to challenge the credibility of the officer.
Smart police officers will give a suspect "lots of rope" before deciding to stop the vehicle in motion. In a DWI prosecution, the more "bad driving" facts the police officer has, the better. That is why an officer might wait before stopping a motorist. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, the officer will stop someone immediately. If the suspect poses an immediate threat to safety on the road an officer might be quicker on the trigger. At the end of the day, all the officer needs are articulable facts suggesting a crime is occurring.
Reasonable suspicion is a hot button issue in almost EVERY STATE. Maryland Special Court of Appeals has held that "weaving, swerving, or pin-balling" is not reasonable suspicion. However, as previously stated this is ultimately up to the discretion of the officer making the stop. Unfortunately, there are endless reasons to initiate the stop. If your defense counsel can establish the stop was bad then everything discovered is inadmissible. Therefore the fruit of the poisonous tree. I would write down all facts immediately as you remember them from the incident and see a local defense attorney as soon as possible.
I am glad to see New Braunfels questions! Yes, the law of reasonable suspicion applies to the decision to stop a motorist, and also applies to the officers decision to continue holding that motorist at the roadway. In other words, officers can pull someone over for speeding and it can turn into a DWI arrest if the officer develops reasonable suspicion about that to continue an investigation past a speeding stop. whether the officer can do that is analyzed under the laws of RS. Of course, the officer has the right to request field sobriety testing if he thinks he has RS. Contrary to the propaganda of "no refusal" weekends, or "no refusal counties/cities", you can refuse everything. you don't even have to talk although there are obvious consequences that you cannot always control for each type of refusal. The RS question you pose involves a highly factual analysis and we don't have any to work with in your question. you can email me the facts if you like: email@example.com or visit my website for my New Braunfels practice at www.kylelawfirm.com
It is pretty much up to the officer. Here's a novel thought,, don't drink and drive at all. I am of course being serious. The officer has discretion to stop on reasonable suspicion. Many times, it it failure to use turn signals, failing to maintain a single lane of marked traffic, etc.
Case law changes frequently and the trend right now is to give the officer wide discretion in determining reasonable suspicion.
Paul J. Smith
Board Certified Criminal Law
Texas Board of Legal Specialization
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