Cop pulling over vehicle

Does Swerving Alone Constitute Reasonable Suspicion for a DUI/DWI in NC?

By Joel Hancock

It can be terrifying to be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). You never expect to find yourself in such a situation. If convicted of DUI/DWI, your license can be suspended or revoked, you can lose your job – and your reputation. However, just because you have been charged with DUI/DWI, it doesn’t mean that you are automatically going to be found guilty. In fact, the officer who pulled you over may have lacked sufficient evidence to pull you over in the first place. If you can prove this, you may be able to have your case dismissed altogether. 

Specific, Identifiable Facts and Reasonable Inferences

Under North Carolina law, an officer can only stop you based on specific, identifiable facts and reasonable inferences that can be made from those facts. Whether these facts and inferences were rational is based on what a “reasonable, cautious officer, guided by his experience and training” would determine in that specific case. Under the law, having a hunch or a suspicion without specific facts is not enough to stop someone. 

A very common reason that a police officer will pull someone over suspecting DUI/DWI is because that person was swerving on the road. It’s important to note though, that someone who is weaving within a lane is not enough to support a reasonable suspicion of DUI/DWI and therefore cannot be pulled over. This has been upheld by North Carolina courts. 

When Can Weaving Be Enough?

However, weaving, when combined with other factors, can be enough for reasonable suspicion, legally allowing the officer to pull someone over. North Carolina courts have held that officers have a reasonable, articulable suspicion when a driver is weaving at an unusual location, and in an area in close proximity to bars. State courts have also found that a driver who was weaving so erratically that drivers in the oncoming lanes had to move to avoid colliding with him or her was enough to justify a stop. 

Again, it’s not enough that you were swerving slightly within your lane to justify reasonable suspicion and therefore being stopped. If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI, there is a chance that the arresting officer violated your rights. 

Joel Hancock at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with DUI/DWI

If you have been charged with DUI/DWI and believe that your rights have been violated, you may have options. You have the right to defend yourself. Your best bet of doing so successfully is with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney who understands what you are up against and will fight on your behalf. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you to fight this order. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.
Posted in DWI