What is reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop in Texas?
Reasonable suspicion in general.
The Texas case, Hamal v. State, explains that an officer has sufficient reasonable suspicion when he or she is aware of specific articulable facts, that when combined with rational inferences from those facts, would lead the officer to suspect that a person has committed, is committing, or will soon commit a crime.
This is the basic law school exam definition, but what exactly does this mean? For an officer to justify any type of traffic stop on a vehicle he or she must make a rational decision that, based on the facts the officer observed, such as the vehicle speed, not signaling, etc. justifies the officer’s decision to stop the vehicle.
Certain types of traffic violations, committed in the officer’s presence are enough to stop a vehicle. These include, but are not limited to: speeding, failure to signal a turn, failure to make a complete stop at a stop sign, a license plate check to inquire about up to date insurance, etc.
If an officer stops a vehicle based on multiple violations such as speeding and failure to turn, the officer only needs to be able to prove one violation, identifying specific facts, to justify the stop, if the stop is contested in court.
What if the officer does not have reasonable suspicion?
When clients call with questions about charges that have been filed resulting from a traffic stop, the first step is to make sure the officer has this reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle. If the officer does not have this required suspicion, the traffic stop could possibly be contested and found invalid and any incriminating evidence found, resulting from that stop, could be excluded from the case.
Give us a call today to see if your officer had reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle.