Probable Causes for a DWI Stop

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence and may have long term impacts on your life if convicted. Often times, drivers get behind the wheel believing their ability to operate a vehicle remains unimpaired yet their actions may indicate otherwise to law enforcement officers. Texas law gives police many probable causes for a DWI stop.

In Texas, police need to meet the legal standard of probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence. Many police do not believe the standard for probable cause to arrest a suspected drunk driver is very high and many judges may be inclined to agree. The Law Office of Andrew W. Williams believes all suspects have the right to due process and law enforcement should be held to the letter of the law for traffic stops.

Pulled Over on Suspicion of DWI

Texas law allows police to initiate traffic stops for a number of reasons. An officer’s “reasonable suspicion” is enough to give them the right to pull you over and briefly investigate your suspicious behavior. The follow are just some of the reasons a police officer may pull you over and investigate a possible DWI.

According to the Texas District and Counties Attorneys Association, police officers may initiate traffic stops for the following reasons:

  • Failure to properly use turn signals: Drivers in Texas must use their turn signals for at least 100 feet before a turn is made, including turn-only lanes.
  • Tips from citizens, EMS, and anonymous calls: Texas case law hold there are numerous scenarios where information provided to police by private citizens and anonymous callers gives police reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle.
  • Swerving, bad driving, and aggressive driving: Courts in Texas hold observed instances of bad driving can give police reasonable suspicion to believe a crime is being committed and initiate a traffic stop. Examples include driving too fast, too slow, swerving inside traffic lanes, or even revving a vehicle’s engine at a traffic light.
  • Community caretaking: As part of an officer’s duty to serve and protect the public, there are scenarios where police may pull over drivers who may need help. Police may use this provision to pull over drivers on deserted highways during late evening hours they believe to be intoxicated.
  • Headlight and taillight outages: Drivers in Texas are required to maintain safety equipment on their vehicle, this include head and taillights. Police may initiate traffic stops for these offences.

Does reasonable suspicion allow police to arrest me for DWI?

Reasonable suspicion by itself does not give police the authority to arrest drivers for suspected DWI. Reasonable suspicion is what gives police the right to initiate a traffic stop, probable cause gives them the power to make an arrest.

The distinction between reasonable suspicion and probable cause is that the former is an officer’s inclination a crime might have been committed while the later is that a crime has most likely been committed. While there are a number of reasons why a Texas police officer may find probable cause to make an arrest, here are some of the most common we see at our Texas DWI law practice.

  • Failing a breathalyzer
  • Stumbling during a roadside sobriety exam
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Smelling alcohol in the vehicle
  • Belligerent behavior

DWI attorneys in Kingwood, Texas

If you were been arrested for DWI, contact The Law Office of Andrew J. Williams. With over 20 years of experience, over 500 cases handled, and a Texas state board certification in criminal defense law, Andrew Williams will work hard to advocate for your rights. The Law Office of Andrew Williams serves clients in Kingwood, Houston, the Woodlands, and throughout the state of Texas.

Andrew Williams, an experienced attorney who can challenge evidence in a DWI case
About the Author: Andrew Williams
I am a criminal defense lawyer with over 20 years experience defending people accused of wrongdoing. I am board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Only ten percent of attorneys in Texas are board certified in their respective field. I practice criminal law exclusively in both state and federal court including appeals of criminal cases.