Tyler DWI Attorney Explains DWI in Texas
If you have been charged with a DWI in Texas, your defense starts from the moment you encounter the police and see the flashing lights in your review mirror. Many factors are involved in an arrest, and your DWI attorney can review the facts of your case to determine whether:
- reasonable suspicion and probable cause existed before and during your arrest,
- field sobriety tests were conducted correctly, and
- chemical tests were administered properly.
Reasonable Suspicion Must Be Present Before You Are Stopped
Before a police officer can stop your car, he or she must have reasonable suspicion, meaning that there is evidence that a reasonable police officer would suspect that a crime has occurred or is occurring. The court may dismiss a charge for a DWI in Texas if the police officer does not have reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop. Examples of reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop include:
- crossing the centerline
- driving too slowly
- other activities that would cause a reasonable officer to believe that the law has been violated
Equally important is what does not constitute reasonable suspicion:
- your ethnicity
- driving an older or beat-up car
- having a “rough” appearance
Probable Cause Must Be Present Before You Are Arrested
A DWI in Texas is serious. Therefore, your DWI attorney will want a detailed description of what occurred when you were stopped. After the stop, the police officer must find evidence of probable cause before you can be arrested for a DWI in Texas. Probable cause means there is sufficient evidence to believe that a crime has been committed.
Frequently, breathalyzers and other chemical tests are performed to determine your blood-alcohol level. However, at the roadside, police officers do not typically have the means to perform a blood-alcohol analysis that is admissible in court. Therefore, the police gather evidence that probable cause exists so that they can take you into custody. Next, the police transport you to a location where a blood-alcohol analysis can be performed. The test results can then be used at your trial for a DWI in Texas. You have the right to refuse the blood-alcohol analysis, but your license will be suspended if you do so.
Police Make Mistakes
The police then make a report of what they observed during the stop. The report includes what they saw, heard or smelled when they approached your car. Despite the badge and uniform, police officers are human and therefore prone to making mistakes.
Furthermore, police, like everyone else, often see what they want to see. Arresting and convicting someone for a DWI in Texas can be good for a police officer‘s career. Even if it is not true, some police will report that the driver smelled strongly of alcohol and that his eyes were bloodshot.
What Is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test?
The next step of a police stop is a series of physical and mental tests used to determine if a person is guilty of a DWI in Texas, one of which is the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. HGN is an involuntary jerky movement of the eyes. During the HGN test, the officer will instruct you to keep your head still and follow the movements of a penlight, or some other object, with your eyes.
HGN can be caused by intoxication; however, according to the American Optometric Association, HGN can also be a symptom of several medical conditions such as near sightedness, cataracts, astigmatism and even an inner ear inflammation. Another problem with roadside HGN tests is that the police officer’s observations usually cannot be verified. The movements of the eyes are so small that even a body camera is not able to detect the movements.
The Walk and Turn Test
The walk and turn test is another means used to determine whether a driver is guilty of a DWI in Texas. In the walk and turn test, you are instructed to take nine steps heel to toe. At the end of nine steps, you take several small steps and turn around. The law police officer will take it as a sign of intoxication if you:
- extend your arms out,
- stumble, or
- start walking before the officer tells you to start,
The failings of this test are obvious. Walk and turn tests are conducted outside, often on uneven ground. Cars and trucks may be whizzing by and making loud noises, making it difficult to understand the police officer’s directions. A gust of wind coming from a big rig passing by can be enough to cause a person to stumble. On top of this, you might have to deal with the possibility of a small hole in the ground or a fist-sized stone causing you to lose your balance. Of course, many people suffer from leg or back pain, or are maybe just stiff from a long drive, which could make it difficult to complete the test.
Chemical Analysis to Determine Blood-Alcohol Level
The officer may administer other physical tests, such as the one-legged stand or finger-to-nose test. At this point, however, the officer has already decided whether he will charge you with a DWI in Texas. If so, you will be arrested and taken in for the breathalyzer or other chemical analysis tests.
You should be informed by the arresting officer that you can refuse the test. However, keep in mind that if you do so, your license will be suspended. Chemical analysis sounds scientific and objective. However, fallible humans operate the machines, and they often fail to follow the proper protocol in conducting the tests or fail to calibrate the machines. Sometimes they do not even have the proper training to conduct the test.
Build a Solid Defense with Our DWI Attorney
If you have been arrested for DWI in Texas, get the help you need. Call John Eastland, Attorney at Law, P.C. at (903) 705-7889. John Eastland’s legal practice is solely dedicated to helping people charged with a DWI in Texas. Our DWI attorney will review the evidence from start to finish and build you a solid defense. If the case goes to trial, he will know the facts of the case and be able to use the defenses detailed above to move for dismissal of your case.