Drunk driving accidents are responsible for many deaths every year in Texas. For this reason, law enforcement has been given a host of legal powers to try and address the issue.
Law enforcement is entitled to carry out traffic stops and make arrests, but these powers are not unchecked. To carry out a stop, they must have a reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed. For example, erratic driving behaviors and misjudgments.
To make an arrest, officers must have probable cause. This is a higher standard of proof. Outlined below are a few common examples.
An admission of drinking
Just because you had a drink earlier does not mean you are over the limit. However, if you admit to drinking, this could amount to probable cause in some circumstances. Even if you have just come from a bar without having a drink, an admission like this may amount to probable cause.
That’s why it’s so important to consider your Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent. Any form of admission could potentially be self-incriminating and lead to further investigations and even arrest.
Failing a field sobriety test
During traffic stops, officers can use the one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus test and walk-and-turn test to gauge your sobriety. These are referred to as field sobriety tests. When you obtain your driver’s license in Texas, you consent to taking these tests or potentially having your license suspended if you refuse.
Failing one of these tests can amount to probable cause, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are intoxicated. Field sobriety tests are subjective and ultimately rely on the officer’s judgment, which isn’t always accurate.
These are just some of the more common examples of probable cause. Anything that leads officers to believe you are intoxicated may also be relevant.
A stop or arrest does not mean you are guilty, you have the presumption of innocence. When facing DWI charges, be sure to have legal guidance behind you.