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Vehicle Stops in Kentucky

In the state of Kentucky an officer must have reasonable suspicion to make a stop for suspected DUI. An officer may have reasonable suspicion when they see a vehicle violating traffic laws and the like. These violations include weaving in and out of traffic, running a stop light or a stop sign, crossing the center line of a highway, or varying speeds. Once an officer witnesses any of these driving behaviors the driver may legally be stopped. These behaviors are not the only things which can give an officer reasonable suspicion to make a stop; an officer may also have reasonable suspicion to make a stop when someone is driving with a broken taillight or expired tags. After the officer makes the stop he/she may determine by interactions with the driver that there is reason to conduct a field sobriety test or make an arrest.

If the vehicle is not moving an officer may still make a stop when there are suspicious circumstances. For instance, when an officer sees a vehicle stopped on the highway he/she may stop and request the license of the person behind the wheel. This would be considered a legal stop because if the officer’s interaction with the driver leads the officer to believe the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs it is safe to assume that the driver drove the vehicle to where it was found on the highway. Therefore, one may be stopped when the vehicle is not moving. However, one must be in physical control of the motor vehicle for the stop to be lawful. Being in physical control has not exactly been defined in the statutes, but the Kentucky courts have come up with some factors to consider. These factors include: (1) whether the person in the vehicle is awake or asleep, (2) Whether the vehicle was running, (3) the location of the vehicle and the totality of the circumstances concerning how the vehicle arrived at that location, and (4) the intent of the person sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. Taken together the third and fourth factors listed are important because the courts recognize that a sleeping person cannot be in control of a nonmoving vehicle.


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