If you were arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) after attending Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, you need to start thinking about how you will defend your rights and driving privilege right away. Law enforcement officers and the criminal justice system will spare you no leniency, which may be especially true if you are an out-of-state visitor just here for the big game. Without taking any action to protect yourself, you could be slammed by a lengthy jail sentence, steep fines, and a license suspension lasting two or more years.
Where should your defense begin, though? Probable cause is generally a strong starting point. The Constitution of the United States shields you from unjust searches and seizures, and so a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are breaking the law before signaling for you to pull over. If there was no telltale sign that you were committing a crime or had just committed one – such as driving drunk – any evidence collected against you may be inadmissible and your arrest could be unconstitutional. The officer cannot “get a feeling” about you and pull you over, there must be objective facts that back up his or her decision to stop – or seize – you.
Observable behaviors or characteristics that may constitute reasonable suspicion include:
- Erratic or dangerous driving, such as swerving, speeding, tailgating, etc.
- Broken taillight or missing registration sticker
- Vehicle matches description of suspect’s vehicle in active investigation
- You match the description of a wanted criminal suspect
- Illegal substance or open container is visible in plain sight within your vehicle
From Reasonable Suspicion to Probable Cause
After reasonable suspicion has prompted the officer to pull you over, probable cause is further established by objectively making observations about your present condition. Was there a strong smell of alcohol or marijuana in your vehicle? Had you been slurring your words or having trouble meeting the officer’s gaze? Did you display reckless driving behaviors just prior to being pulled over? If the officer has probable cause to believe you are indeed drunk behind the wheel, he or she may ask you to submit to blood alcohol concentration (BAC) testing.
This is where a DWI case can become increasingly complicated. Did you complete a field sobriety test? Were you taken back to the station for chemical testing? How much evidence was actually collected after you were pulled over, and had probable cause been established at that point? Getting the answers to all of these questions and using them to your advantage requires the assistance of a knowledgeable Texas criminal defense lawyer.
Houston DWI Defense Attorney Tyler Flood is currently looking into DWI cases involving drivers – Texas State residents and out-of-state visitors – who were unjustly pulled over after attending Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston. Our law firm is 100% dedicated to DWI defense and intoxication-related crimes. Call (713) 497-1223 or contact us online to set yourself up for a free case analysis as soon as possible.