DWI and Traffic Stop Validity

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Kans Law Firm, LLC

Bloomington, MN


Courts consider reasonable suspicion as articulable and specific facts that are combined with rational suppositions that someone has, is, or is just about to commit a crime. This low standard means that a police officer simply needs to show that a traffic stop was not based on a whim, although no traffic violation is actually necessary. The most common reasons for law enforcement officials to stop vehicles, however, are traffic violations. These traffic stops can sometimes result in a DWI arrest or charge.

Common reasons for traffic stops include speeding, headlights that are turned off, broken taillights, and expired registration. Although courts often uphold these kinds of traffic stops, there are certain stops that are not deemed valid. Examples of these are stopping a vehicle because of a tip from an anonymous caller that the driver is drunk without having formed an independent basis for the stop, or a slight weaving within a traffic lane due to wind. Such stops can be contested during the pre-trial hearing.

Oftentimes, criminal defense lawyers contest a stop by filing a motion to suppress prior to the defendant’s trial. This motion usually states that the arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion to sequester the defendant, and that any and all evidence obtained after this seizure should be suppressed. The motion generally includes a pre-trial hearing where witnesses and the police officer may testify against the defendant or on your behalf. Once the hearing is over, the court may allow all parties to submit written documentation further supporting the respective cases. Afterwards, the court reviews the case and then issues an order.