From pulling you over to making an arrest, police must follow strict procedures to gather evidence and even protect your rights. However, law enforcement often breaks protocol, whether by mistake or intentionally.
If an arresting officer commits an error during a DWI investigation, they are not allowed to use collected evidence in a court of law. A criminal defense attorney can file a motion to suppress, and if the judge approves, the evidence will be thrown out of court. Without any evidence against you, it is possible for you to avoid conviction.
The following are the most common mistakes made by police during a DWI arrest:
- Illegal traffic stop – In order to pull you over, police need to establish “reasonable suspicion” to do so. This typically means you would have to commit a traffic offense (i.e. speeding, failing to use your turn signal when switching lanes, driving with a busted taillight, etc.) or appear that you need help (i.e. pulled over on a highway or driving a similar vehicle suspected of a crime). If law enforcement does not have reasonable suspicion, any evidence collected afterward is inadmissible in court.
- No probable cause – Officers must have probable cause to arrest you. This means they gathered enough evidence that a reasonable individual would believe you were drunk driving. Evidence includes the smell of alcohol coming from your mouth, slurred speech, or results from the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. When there is no probable cause, judges often dismiss the case altogether.
- Improper field sobriety testing – The one-legged stand, walk and turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus are standardized field sobriety tests law enforcement administers to determine intoxication. If the arresting officer fails to follow the standard instructions and/or provide detailed information about the performance of each test, these results are considered invalid.
- Improper administration of breath test – After an arrest, police will request you take a breath test. The results from this test are also used as an important piece of evidence against you. Not only do police need to follow specific rules when administering the test (i.e. 15-minute observation period), they must also ensure the device is properly calibrated. Any errors when calibrating or administering the breath test means the results cannot be used in court.
At The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C., our College Station & Bryan criminal defense attorney can investigate your arrest, collect evidence, and determine whether or not law enforcement made an error during the DWI investigation. If there are any errors, it could substantially benefit your case.
If you have been arrested for DWI in Texas, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.