What Gives the Police the Right to Detain You?

One of the issues that is constantly being discussed on this blog and others where criminal justice and DWI defense is concerned is the Fourth Amendment. We are fortunate to live in a country and state with strong protections that are the backbone of our systems of government. Nowhere are these protections stronger than in those found in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The language of the Fourth Amendment is limited, but the protection it describes continues to protect each of us from state overreach. In its essence, it says that the government, its agents, and those in its employ may not search, detain, seize, inspect, or take property unless specific requirements are first met. Those requirements include the police observing some sort of illegal activity by a suspect, or getting a search or arrest warrant to proceed.

As a Protection and Guide

These protections and factors apply to a wide range of government activity, including the police officer on the streets. As a government agent, a police officer is bound by the limits outlined in the law, and especially the Constitution. Working within those rules, the questions arises of when do the police have the right to pull someone over and begin a DWI investigation?

Within the Texas Transportation Code there are hundred of laws written covering speeding down the road to parking in the wrong place. If, when driving down the road, a police officer observes what he or she believes to be a violation of one or more of those laws, that equals probable cause. When a police officer has probable cause to believe that a law has been violated, he or she then has the right to make a stop and begin an investigation.

Now, there are times when the law an officer observes being broken is DWI itself, but more often than not it is speeding, failing to use a turn signal, or some other more trivial rule. But as small as the initial offense may be, as long as a police officer has reasonable cause to believe a law has been broken, he or she can then proceed to detain a driver. It is after being detained in this manner that most DWI investigations really begin. If a police officer has probable cause for the initial stop, it only takes the smell of alcohol on the breath, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or another telltale sign of drinking for an officer to begin a DWI investigation in earnest.

Upholding and Defending Constitutional Protections

Once an arrest has been made for DWI, and a record made, the defense should begin as soon as possible. While you may not think you have a good chance of defending a DWI, the fact is that there are many more defenses to DWI than most people realize. As we have discussed, the police and government are bound by the people’s protections in the U.S. Constitution. This means that when they violate those protections, there are ways to ensure it does not happen again, and to compensate a defendant whose rights have been trampled on.

At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we affirm and promote the protections found in the Constitution every single day for our clients. We investigate, research, and defend those accused of DWI because we know the power that resides in the law and the help it can be to those accused. If you are facing DWI charges, contact us today for your free case evaluation.