Probable Cause in DWI Defense

One of the essential elements in a DWI investigation is probable cause. There is a protocol that law enforcers have to follow when arresting an individual for driving while intoxicated (DWI) which includes probable cause. A Dallas criminal attorney says on his website that probable cause is the reasonable belief that a crime had been or is in the process of being committed. It is distinct from reasonable suspicion, which is enough to justify the initial stop but not enough for DWI charges unless there is evidence that the driver may be intoxicated, such as the smell of alcohol or an open can of beer on the dashboard.

This is an important distinction from a defense point of view. A law enforcer may be suspicious of unusual driving behavior, and may then pull the vehicle over. However, that is not probable cause. A driver may commit a traffic violation for reasons other DWI. The driver may have been distracted which caused the vehicle to drift across lanes, or may have been in a hurry which would account for speeding or tailgating. In Texas, DWI laws allow officers who have probable cause to search a vehicle or to draw blood for testing without a warrant under certain conditions, and the arrest will stand. This is mostly true during what is called a “no refusal” period, where anyone who refuses to submit a blood sample can be detained.

However, arresting a driver for DWI without probable cause can be the basis for having any subsequent evidence obtained suppressed including any blood or breath tests and the case dismissed. According to an article on the website of the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter in Dallas, police officers in Texas are under a lot of pressure to minimize the incidence of DWI, which may cause them to become overly zealous in making DWI arrests even if they have not established probable cause.

When arrested for DWI when there is no probable cause, it is important to contact a DWI lawyer in the area immediately. It may mean the difference between a dismissal and conviction. As the penalties for a DWI conviction are incredibly harsh, it’s important that you go above and beyond in making sure your defense is solid. It would be beyond a shame to end up imprisoned for a crime you didn’t commit – a beer you did not drink.

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