Mistakes Police Make in DWI Arrests: What Offenders Need to Know

So you got a DWI after driving home from a New Year’s party. You probably aren’t alone, considering that Austin, Texas sees a rate of 5,000 to 6,000 DWI arrests per year.

Still, you’re probably wondering: now what?

It’s time to seek out a DWI attorney and make sure your arrest was lawful. That’s right: DWI arrests aren’t always done legally. When that happens, you can usually win your case and have the DWI removed from your record.

Want to know some of the most common reasons for an unlawful DWI arrest? Check out this guide for the top 10 situations you need to look out for.

Mistakes Police Make in DWI Arrests What Offenders Need to Know1. Someone Reported You for Suspicious Driving

Sometimes, concerned citizens will call into dispatch to report a suspicious driver. Dispatch informs local police, who identify your vehicle and pull you over. Then, you’re arrested for a DWI.

Why It’s Illegal

Police aren’t legally allowed to pull you over based on a phone call alone. They must first have sufficient evidence that you are, in fact, driving recklessly.

2. The Officer Fails to Follow NHTSA Rules for Sobriety Tests

You’re pulled over because you failed to stop at a red light. Since you decline to take a breath test, the officer administers a field sobriety test instead.

Why It’s Illegal

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association has rules about how sobriety tests can be administered. If an officer fails to abide by them, you can have the test results thrown out in court.

3. You Tell the Officer You’re Intoxicated

After pulling you over and questioning you, an officer gets you to admit you’re under the influence. Because of your oral statement, you’re arrested and booked for DWI.

Why It’s Illegal

Your word alone doesn’t count as evidence for an arrest. In addition to your oral statement, the officer must have independent evidence before issuing a DWI.

4. The Officer Never Saw You Behind the Wheel

You drive to a local park and get out of your car, headed for a walk. Upon your return, you’re questioned about your intoxication and whether you’ve been driving. You admit to both and are arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Why It’s Illegal

In the same vein as the previous situation, an officer can’t take your word for it alone. If the officer didn’t see you behind the wheel of your vehicle, they can’t make a legal arrest.

5. You’re Detained for an Unreasonable Amount of Time

After being arrested and booked for DWI, you’re detained. You ask about how long you’ll have to wait before you can make bail and the police don’t have an answer for you. They have no further evidence of any crimes you’ve committed.

Why It’s Illegal

Police cannot legally detain you without limit. Once you’re booked for a DWI, you should be able to make bail almost immediately, barring further evidence the police found against you. Without reasonable suspicion that you’ve committed another crime, though, you must be released within a reasonable timeline.

6. Arrest Without Probable Cause

You’re pulled over while driving and, without performing a thorough investigation, the officer arrests you for a DWI.

Why It’s Illegal

Detaining and arresting you within a short period is typically illegal. The officer must perform an investigation, which can take form as a breath test, sobriety test, or identification of the intoxicating material in the vehicle. This is called probable cause.

7. Unlawful Stops

An officer stops you and issues a DWI for:

  • Looking suspicious
  • Driving too slow
  • Weaving within a lane
  • Missing a traffic sign that doesn’t comply with the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices

Why It’s Illegal

Regarding looking suspicious, this is called profiling, and it’s illegal. An officer must be able to articulate why he’s pulling you over, other than looking suspicious. Any suspicions he does have must be based on real evidence, like speeding or another traffic violation.

If you’re driving too slow, you aren’t violating traffic laws. An officer must have another reason to pull you over other than going below the speed limit. You must have violated an actual traffic law.

Texas law says that you must drive as well as possible within a lane. As long as you aren’t weaving between lanes, an officer can’t state reasonable suspicion for a stop.

Finally, if you miss a non-compliant traffic sign, you aren’t at fault. All street signs and lane signifiers must be visible. If you’re pulled over because you failed to stop at a sign where “stop” is no longer visible, it’s not legal to issue you a DWI.

8. The Officer Is Mistaken in His Belief That You’re Breaking Driving Laws

You think you’re driving according to the law, but you get pulled over. When you ask why you’re being pulled over, the officer cites a reason that doesn’t signify a violation.

Why It’s Illegal

Even if the officer acts in good faith, a court would require the correct interpretation of the law.

9. You’re Followed Into Your Driveway

In this common mistake, the officer or officers follow you into your driveway. There, they tell you you’re under arrest and issue a DWI.

Why It’s Illegal

By law, police are not allowed to enter your residence without prior invitation or sufficient information to support their unlawful entry. Additionally, the Fourth Amendment makes it so officers can’t perform illegal search and seizure of items inside your home.

10. The Officer Doesn’t Abide by the Breath Testing Manual

You get pulled over and admit that you’ve been drinking while driving. The officer knows better than to take your word for it alone. He administers a breath test, which you fail, and arrests you for DWI.

Why It’s Illegal

The Texas Department of Safety requires all officers to follow the guidelines outlined in the Breath Testing Manual. If the officer fails to comply with the requirements in this manual, the results of the test can be invalidated. That means a court would throw out the test as evidence for DWI.

DWI Arrests: What to Do When You’re Arrested in Austin, Texas

Want to know more about unlawful DWI arrests and what you can do to fight them in Austin? Contact us at Hamilton and Grant Attorneys at Law to get help now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *