WHEN CAN THE POLICE PULL YOU OVER FOR DWI?

DWI, or driving while intoxicated, is a charge that can have a lasting impact on you and your family. If charged and convicted of DWI you could be facing steep fines, a license suspension, and considerable jail time. How did you get here? And how are the police allowed to pull someone over and charge them with DWI?
Reasonable Suspicion

Before the police can pull you over and investigate whether you are driving while intoxicated, they have to have reasonable suspicion. A police officer must have reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime before they can stop you, investigate you, or arrest you for DWI. But what constitutes reasonable suspicion?

Typically, reasonable suspicion happens when a police officer observes a driver breaking a traffic law. This can be speeding, failure to use a turn signal, not stopping at a stop light, or any other of the innumerable laws that drivers are subject to. As soon as a police officer sees someone break a traffic ordinance, they can pull the person over and begin an investigation for the law that was broken, or for DWI if they have enough reason to suspect the person has been drinking and driving.

State Criminal Court of Appeals Addresses Reasonable Suspicion

The Texas State Court of Criminal Appeals was faced with a reasonable suspicion issue in 2007. In that case, the court had to decide whether the police were justified in pulling a man over when he weaved in and out of a lane over a short period of time. The man was pulled over and arrested after an investigation showed he had been drinking and driving.

The man challenged the police officer’s ability to pull him over for simply weaving in and out of a lane, and the court of appeals agreed with him. But the Court of Criminal Appeals did not. In that opinion, the State Court of Criminal Appeals applied a totality of the circumstances test to conclude that there was reasonable suspicion that the driver had broken a law.

There were a number of circumstances in that case that could lead a police officer to reasonably suspect a driver is intoxicated and therefore breaking the law.

  • The man did weave in and out of a lane.
  • It was 1 am, and that is a classic tell-tale sign.
  • The police officer was trained to detect DWI.

When put together, the court concluded that there was reasonable suspicion that the man was committing a DWI.

You can see from the above that the standard for reasonable suspicion is easy for the police to establish. But that does not mean that the police do not make mistakes. In fact, every case will have some fact or law to exploit in the defendant’s favor, if they have the right attorney. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we have the experience and talent that your case requires. Contact us so we can help you with your DWI charges.