Mistakes Police Make in DWI Arrests

Illegal DWI arrests in Houston

So you were arrested for DWI after driving home from a bachelorette party. You’re probably not alone, given that Houston, Texas has 5,000 to 6,000 DWI arrests per year.

Still, you’re probably wondering, “What now?”

It’s time to hire a DWI lawyer and ensure your arrest was legal. That’s right: not all DWI arrests are legal. When this occurs, you usually have a good chance of winning your case and having the DWI removed from your record.

Want to know what the most common reasons are for an illegal DWI arrest? Check out this guide to learn about the top ten situations to avoid.

1. You were reported for Suspicious Driving by someone.

Concerned citizens will occasionally call dispatch to report a suspicious driver. Dispatch notifies local police, who identify your vehicle and stop you. You are then arrested for DWI.

Why Is It Illegal?

Police officers are not permitted by law to pull you over solely based on a phone call. They must first have enough evidence that you are driving recklessly.

2. The Officer Disobeys NHTSA Sobriety Test Rules

You’ve been pulled over for failing to stop at a red light. Because you refuse to take a breath test, the officer instead administers a field sobriety test.

Why Is It Illegal?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has guidelines for administering sobriety tests. If an officer fails to follow them, the test results may be thrown out in court.

3. You Inform the Officer That You Are Drunk

After pulling you over and questioning you, an officer convinces you that you are under the influence of alcohol. You’ve been arrested and booked for DWI based on your oral statement.

Why Is It Illegal?

Your word does not suffice as evidence for an arrest. Before issuing a DWI, the officer must have independent evidence in addition to your oral statement.

4. The officer never saw you driving.

You drive to a nearby park and get out of your car, intending to go for a walk. When you return, you are interrogated about your intoxication and whether or not you have been driving. You admit to both and are arrested for driving under the influence.

Why Is It Illegal?

In the same vein as the previous situation, an officer cannot rely solely on your word. The officer cannot make a legal arrest if they do not see you behind the wheel of your vehicle.

5. You have been detained for an unreasonable period of time.

You are detained after being arrested and booked for DWI. When you inquire about how long you will have to wait before making bail, the police do not have an answer. They have no further evidence that you committed any crimes.

Why Is It Illegal?

The police cannot legally detain you indefinitely. If you are arrested for DWI, you should be able to post bail almost immediately, unless the police discover additional evidence against you. However, if there is no reasonable suspicion that you have committed another crime, you must be released within a reasonable time frame.

6. Arrest for No Probable Cause

You are pulled over while driving, and the officer arrests you for DWI without conducting a thorough investigation.

Why Is It Illegal?

Detaining and arresting you in a short period of time is usually illegal. The officer must conduct an investigation, which may include a breath test, a sobriety test, or the identification of the intoxicating substance in the vehicle. This is known as probable cause.

7. Illegal Stops

An officer pulls you over and issues you 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 Device

Why Is It Illegal?

Profiling is the illegal practice of making someone appear suspicious. Other than looking suspicious, an officer must be able to explain why he is pulling you over. Any suspicions he has must be supported by real evidence, such as speeding or another traffic violation.

You are not breaking any traffic laws if you drive too slowly. Other than exceeding the speed limit, an officer must have reason to stop you. You must have broken a real traffic law.

According to Texas law, you must drive as safely as possible within a lane. An officer cannot make a stop based on reasonable suspicion if you are not weaving between lanes.

Finally, you are not at fault if you fail to notice a non-compliant traffic sign. All street signs and lane markers must be clearly visible. It is not legal to issue you a DWI if you are pulled over because you failed to stop at a sign where the word “stop” is no longer visible.

8. The officer is incorrect in his belief that you are violating traffic laws.

You believe you are driving legally, but you are pulled over. When you ask why you’ve been pulled over, the officer gives you an explanation that doesn’t involve a violation.

Why Is It Illegal?

Even if the officer acts in good faith, the correct interpretation of the law is required by a court.

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 charge you with a DWI.

Why Is It Illegal?

Police are not permitted by law to enter your home without a prior invitation or sufficient evidence to support their illegal entry. Furthermore, the Fourth Amendment prohibits officers from conducting illegal searches and seizures of items inside your home.

10. Officer Fails to Follow the Breath Testing Manual

You are pulled over and admit to having consumed alcohol while driving. The officer is wise enough not to take your word for it. He gives you a breathalyzer test, which you fail, and then arrests you for DWI.

Why Is It Illegal?

The Texas Department of Safety requires all officers to follow the Breath Testing Manual guidelines. If the officer fails to follow the requirements in this manual, the test results may be invalidated. That is, a court would reject the test as evidence of DWI.

DWI Arrests in Houston, Texas: What to Do If You’re Arrested

Want to learn more about illegal DWI arrests and how to fight them in Houston? Contact a DWI attorney right away for guidance.

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