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When can a police officer legally pull you over for DUI?

Generally, the police cannot lawfully stop a vehicle unless the officer has reason to believe that the driver has committed a crime or a traffic violation. But, what constitutes an officer's reasonable suspicion? And are there exceptions to this law in Nebraska?

Reasonable suspicion

If a police officer watches a customer leave a bar, get into a car and drive away, the officer cannot lawfully pull over the driver on the grounds of DUI suspicion, unless the driver has exhibited signs of being under the influence. The fact that the driver left the bar does not substantiate reasonable suspicion for a DUI charge. However, if the driver was unable to walk straight after leaving the bar, the officer could lawfully pull over the driver.

The exception

Sobriety checkpoints are somewhat of an exception to this rule. Checkpoints are road blocks that police officers use to perform random DUI tests on drivers. Sobriety checkpoints are not legal in all states, but are allowed in Nebraska because they are believed to increase public safety. Law enforcement must publicize the location of a sobriety checkpoint prior to commencing it. This may be done with the use of a sign in the area, a publication in a newspaper or a publication on the internet.

If you believe an officer may have violated search and seizure laws, talk about your circumstance with a lawyer. Criminal defense lawyers can help you understand your rights and how they are protected.

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