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OUI Motor Vehicle Stops






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Feb 13, 2012

OUI Motor Vehicle Stops

Today’s topic of discussion concerns OUIs and what is referred to as “Reasonable Articulable Suspicion” or “what an officer needs to stop your car.” Oftentimes, an OUI investigation stems from a speeding violation. The client may be exceeding the speed limit by a lot or a little. Does the speed itself matter? No. The officer can stop you when he has probable cause to believe you committed a speeding offense based on that a radar reading. The law does not distinguish between driving 5mph over the speed limit or 25mph over the speed limit. Either scenario is a traffic violation and provides the officer with a legitimate reason to stop your vehicle. Furthermore, the officer can stop you for any violation of the road or a safety violation which includes speeding, failing to stop for a stop sign, failure to use a turn signal, improper lane change, following too closely, display of an expired registration or inspection sticker, etc.

If a police officer stops your car for “erratic operation”, that may mean you were crossing the centerline or fog line; it may mean you were drifting within your lane or swerving; it may mean you were driving 10mph or more under this speed limit. Any of the aforementioned reasons, as well as others, provide the officer with legitimate grounds to pull you over for suspicion of drunk driving in the state of Maine

What happens if you’re in the parking lot and an officer comes up behind you, parks his cruiser next to you and walks up to you as you’re exiting your vehicle and begins to ask you questions? Is that a “stop”? Probably not as you are technically free to leave and you may refuse to answer his questions. Under the law, he hasn’t restricted your right to leave the area and hasn’t exercised his authority to a degree that would a “reasonable person” to believe they were not free to leave. Of course, everyone’s case is different and the outcome of your particular case is fact-dependent.

There are many instances where damaging evidence in your case may be suppressed for a violation of your constitutional rights. However, your facts may be very different from your friend’s or neighbor’s case so you should speak with a drunk driving defense attorney about the particular circumstances of your case.




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