In Maine, law enforcement cannot simply pull over your car and detain you on a whim. To stop your vehicle, the officer must have a reasonable articulable suspicion that you are violating law or traffic regulation to pull you over. Any officer that stops your car without reasonable articulable suspicion has violated your constitutional rights. This violation could have a profound impact on your case if you are ultimately arrested. In many cases, your attorney could have evidence against you suppressed, or even have your case dismissed entirely.
Reasonable articulable suspicion is a common factor in operating under the influence (OUI) cases. But what constitutes reasonable articulable suspicion in a Maine traffic stop?
Reasonable Articulable Suspicion Explained
Reasonable articulable suspicion is closely related to another legal standard known as probable cause. Probable cause is the high standard police officers must meet before they can search a vehicle or arrest a suspect. Reasonable articulable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause.
Reasonable articulable suspicion is the belief by a reasonable person that the suspect violated a law or regulation. This standard is subjective; there is no bright line between what a reasonable person would or would not find to be evidence of a crime. To meet this standard, law enforcement officers must articulate the facts they believe show a suspect has committed a crime.
Common Factors That Result in Reasonable Articulable Suspicion
The police do not have to wait for a serious offense to stop your car. If they have reasonable articulable suspicion of any traffic violation – from speeding to driving with a broken taillight – they can lawfully pull you over to investigate. Some of the common factors that result in reasonable articulable suspicion include the following.
- Driving the Wrong Way. Traveling the wrong direction down a one-way street is against state law and many local ordinances. Police are in their right to stop a driver heading the wrong way given the safety risks involved.
- Speeding. Enforcing speeding laws are a major part of the job for most officers. If the police witness you driving even one mile over the speed limit, they are allowed to pull you over.
- Running a Stop Sign. Traffic violations and car accidents are especially common at intersections. If you roll through a stop sign or fail to yield to a traffic light, an officer who sees you can stop you lawfully.
- Mechanical Issues. There are quite a few regulations governing the maintenance of your vehicle. If your car lacks the necessary equipment required by law, a police officer can pull you over. This can include broken taillights, missing license plates, or nonfunctioning headlights.
Speak with a Maine OUI Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested on OUI charges in Maine, an experienced defense attorney can review your case to ensure your legal rights were not violated. If the arresting officer violated your constitutional rights, you might have grounds to have your case dismissed. To discuss your case with an experienced OUI lawyer, contact the Law Offices of William H. Ashe right away. Call today to schedule your free consultation.