Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyer S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq.

Reasonable Suspicion for DUI Stops

Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyer S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq.

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In this country, and in this State of Rhode Island, citizens have a right to be “police-free” from arrest.  Law enforcement must have legal justification to pull over a motor vehicle to conduct further DUI or criminal investigation. 

Police must be able to articulate actual facts which led them to have Reasonable Suspicion to conduct a motor vehicle stop.  Rhode Island police officers cannot simply pull a motorist over because of the color of their skin, or because the motorist is dating the officer’s ex-wife, or out of simple boredom (although as a DUI lawyer and breath test refusal lawyer I have seen all of these things, unfortunately). 

Hiring the best criminal defense attorney to defend you gives you the best chance at winning your case and avoiding the harsh DUI penalties under RI DUI law, including loss of driver’s license.

Call Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyer S. Joshua Macktaz, Esquire today at 401.861.1155 for your best DUI defense

Rhode Island police departments aggressively investigate and prosecute DUI charges. Many clients whose motor vehicle was stopped for DUI feel as though law enforcement had no justification or right to pull them over. 

Many criminal clients feel as though they were stopped simply because they were operating a motor vehicle late at night or coming from a bar. 

I have successfully defended hundreds of  DUI and breath test refusal charges by proving to the Judge or Magistrate that the police had no reasonable suspicion for stopping the motor vehicle and conducting an investigation. 

Once it has been proven the law enforcement had no reasonable suspicion for stopping the motor vehicle, the DUI criminal charges are dismissed and the client suffers no DUI penalties, including loss of driving privilege.  This is another reason why it is so important to hire the best and most experienced DUI attorney to defend you and protect your driver’s license. 

All RI DUI attorneys are NOT the same, not even close.  Hiring the right criminal defense attorney to defend you can make all the difference in the outcome of your criminal case.

What is Considered Reasonable Suspicion for a Rhode Island DUI Car Stop?

Before the police can lawfully stop a motor vehicle, the police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed some type of criminal or traffic offense. 

The majority of DUI arrests begin as a result of law enforcement observing a driver committing a traffic offense violation.  

Here are some common traffic offense violations which Rhode Island police departments use as reasonable suspicion to justify stopping a motor vehicle:

  • Speeding 
  • Lane roadway violations (weaving)
  • Reckless Driving
  • Turning with a wide radius
  • Straddling center of lane marker
  • Almost striking object or vehicle
  • Driving on other than designated highway
  • Swerving
  • Speed more than 10 mph below limit
  • Stopping without cause in traffic lane
  • Following too closely
  • Drifting
  • Tires on center or lane marker
  • Braking erratically
  • Driving into opposing lanes or crossing traffic
  • Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
  • Slow response to traffic signals
  • Stopping inappropriately 
  • Turning abruptly or illegally
  • Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
  • Headlights off
  • Burnt out headlight or taillight
  • Cracked windshield
  • Object suspended from the rear-view mirror

Another common justification for reasonable suspicion used by police when investigating a suspected DUI offender is an automobile accident, with or without personal injury. 

If a motorist is involved in an automobile accident with another vehicle(s) or with a highway fixture, DUI law allows the motor vehicle accident to satisfy reasonable suspicion.

Can a 911 Call to the Police Department Satisfy the Reasonable Suspicion Requirement?

The answer is YES.  911 calls to Rhode Island police departments by other motorists can be used as reasonable suspicion to stop a motor vehicle and begin a DUI investigation or arrest. 

It is quite common for a DUI investigation and arrest,s to begin with a 911 call.  If a motorist sees another vehicle driving recklessly and calls law enforcement, the police now have legal justification to pull the erratic motor vehicle over for further criminal DUI investigation. 

This is a relatively new law for reasonable suspicion.  

Until a few years ago, a 911 call by itself was not considered sufficient reasonable suspicion to stop a motor vehicle and effectuate a DUI arrest. 

This makes sense right?  What if a person holding a grudge, or a person playing a prank decided to call the police about a potential DUI driver? 

In those old cases, before RI DUI law changed, law enforcement was required to make their own independent observations of reckless driving of the motorist before pulling a motor vehicle over and beginning a DUI investigation. 

The 911 caller would identify the car and the location, and police would then arrive and have to make their own observations of a traffic violation before conducting a motor vehicle stop and beginning a DUI investigation. 

However, this is no longer the case, and a simple anonymous 911 call can be the basis for reasonable suspicion to stop a motor vehicle and begin a DUI investigation.


  • Former Rhode Island State Prosecutor
  • Judges, Lawyers and Police Officers refer family and friends
  • 30 years of experience in Rhode Island criminal law with a concentration in DUI arrests
  • 300+ Five Star online reviews across all platforms
  • Aggressive, experienced and personal representation of all clients charged with drunk driving
  • My law office has strong and long-standing relationships with all Rhode Island Judges and prosecutors 
  • My goal in every criminal case is DISMISSAL and then EXPUNGEMENT of all charges from your criminal record and driving record.
  • I will be the DUI lawyer reviewing and overseeing your case and I will be the DUI attorney standing next to you in court.  Unlike so many other Rhode Island Criminal Defense firms, I do NOT send associates to do my job.  I am in criminal court every day of the week, and I strongly believe each DUI client deserves this personal service.
  • I copy every client on every single document coming into the law office, or leaving the office, regarding their DUI charges.  I think it is critical for every client to be well-informed and fully engaged in the process.  Defending your criminal DUI case is truly a team effort.
  • All calls and emails will be returned by me, not an associate, within a few hours of receiving the email or call.  
  • I provide a free and comprehensive initial consultation in all new DUI cases.
  • I am available 24/7/365
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