Dallas DWI Lawyer – Articles

What the Law Requires to Arrest for DWI

1. Police officers must have a reason for stopping your vehicle

Before a Police Officer can pull you over they must have a legitimate reason for stopping your vehicle. The most common reasons include speeding, failing to maintain a single lane, and ignoring traffic safety devices. If you obey the traffic laws and still get pulled over, there is a good chance you can get your case dismissed by a Motion to Suppress. The best way to ensure the Police do not stop your vehicle to conduct a DWI investigation is to closely follow all the traffic laws and devices in the area you are driving in.

2. If the Police stopped your vehicle for a legitimate reason, the Police must still have “reasonable suspicion” to conduct a DWI investigation.

“Reasonable Suspicion” exists if the officer has specific articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from such facts, reasonably justify the officer to believe that a particular person has engaged or is engaging in a criminal activity. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21 (1968). In simple terms the Police are looking for certain signs that would indicate you are driving while intoxicated. Police officers are taught to look for the following symptoms of impairment. If only a few of these signs are present an officer will have “reasonable suspicion” to conduct a DWI investigation. This list is based on research conducted by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • Flushed face
  • Red, watery, glassy or bloodshot eyes
  • Odor of alcohol on breath
  • Slurred Speech
  • Fumbling with wallet while trying to get license
  • Failure to comprehend officer’s questions
  • Unsteady of feet while exiting vehicle
  • Swaying while standing
  • Leaning on car for support
  • Being combative, argumentative or jovial while talking with officer
  • Disheveled clothing
  • Lack of awareness in regards to time and place
  • Unable to follow police instructions

3. After the Police have conducted their investigation, they only need “probable cause” to arrest you for DWI.

The definition of probable cause is “a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime.” The issue is this definition is not a bright line rule or test. It is a belief based on the officer’s training and experience. Probable Cause is a higher burden of proof than the reasonable suspicion the police need to conduct their DWI investigation, but it does not determine guilt or innocence. In a DWI investigation a police officer bases his belief of probable cause on the evidence you provide by your looks and actions at the scene, the standardized field sobriety tests, and/or the breath or blood tests. The less evidence the police have, the harder it is to prove you were driving while intoxicated. If you refuse to do every test the police offer, you will in essence have given the police no evidence by which to establish probable cause. However, the police will use this refusal to substantiate their beliefs and this will allow them meet their burden of probable cause. It is important to remember that just because the police have probable cause to arrest you, this does not equal guilt.

If you need a DWI attorney in Dallas, you should contact experienced Dallas DWI lawyer Mark T. Lassiter.


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