In the state of Texas, law enforcement officers cannot stop drivers at their own discretion. Rather, they must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to conduct an initial traffic stop, whether they believe that the driver is impaired by the effects of alcohol and/or drugs or they have reason to believe that the driver has violated a traffic law. Should they lack a legitimate reason for conducting a DWI stop, for example, any evidence that is collected thereafter would be inadmissible in court. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you discuss the circumstances of your arrest with a Houston DWI lawyer from Jim Medley & Associates, P.C. if you were recently charged with drunk driving. In doing so, you will be able to determine whether or not the arresting officer had reason to stop you in the first place—which could be a crucial element in the success of your defense.
Typically, an officer will only need to prove that they had a reasonable suspicion that you were driving while intoxicated, as this would give them sufficient grounds to conduct a subsequent investigation. From there, they can choose to administer a series of field sobriety tests, a breathalyzer test or even a blood test. If, at this point, they have probable cause to assume that you are intoxicated—which may be established through a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) reading of .08% or greater—it would be within their power to issue an arrest for DWI. What is important to understand, however, is that none of these steps could be taken unless you had a) displayed visible signs of intoxication or b) violated a traffic law. Absent these circumstances, it could be argued that the DWI stop was unlawful—thus giving you grounds to fight for a suppression of evidence and/or the dismissal of your charges.
It is important to note that you could be arrested for DWI if you were stopped for an unrelated reason, however, as a violation of traffic laws would still give an officer legitimate cause to pull you over. If they are subsequently given reason to believe that you are intoxicated (i.e. slurred speech, the smell of alcohol on your breath or open containers of alcohol in the car), they would have grounds to follow up with a DWI investigation. For this reason, you should not hesitate to let a Houston DWI attorney from Jim Medley & Associates, P.C. conduct a thorough post-arrest investigation on your behalf. Not only do they have the resources and legal know-how to determine whether or not your DWI stop was lawful, but they have the experience to successfully defend your case at trial. Call today at (713) 668-4589 or submit a free case evaluation form online to learn more.