Traffic Stop Law Basics in Minnesota

Under both state law and the federal constitution, police officers are required to meet certain threshold requirements before they pull a vehicle over. If an officer fails to meet these requirements, a charge could be dismissed.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution imposes a few basic requirements. First, before an officer can pull a vehicle over, he or she needs “reasonable suspicion.” Reasonable suspicion is the officer’s reasonable belief that the person in the vehicle is committing or has committed a crime. It is a lower standard than the “probable cause” standard that allows officers to arrest an individual for a particular crime.

The officer needs to have a belief based on specific and articulable facts; a hunch is not enough. Relevant facts include whether the person was swerving, speeding, or braking suddenly. Furthermore, any actual traffic infraction or crime, including speeding, permits the officer to stop the vehicle. The Minnesota Constitution imposes the same reasonable suspicion requirement on officers.

The second basic requirement relates to the use of DUI/DWI checkpoints (also known as sobriety checkpoints). Under the Fourth Amendment, these checkpoints are permissible if they meet certain requirements. Under Article I, Section 10 of the Minnesota Constitution, however, officers may not conduct such checkpoints without the necessary reasonable suspicion discussed above.

It is important to remember that these are the basics. Each case is unique, and the law may apply differently depending on your individual circumstances. If you are in need of representation or would like a Minneapolis DWI attorney to evaluate your case, please contact us at 612-341-6575 or email tony@grostyanlaw.com

by Anthony Grostyan