man handcuffed on car

How Probable Cause Impacts DWI Cases

We all know the saying, “you do the crime, you do the time,” but is that true? If someone is accused of committing a crime, won’t they always be convicted of that crime? Well, the reality is that many criminal charges are dropped due to the hard work of experienced criminal defense attorneys, but sometimes, charges are dropped because an officer breaks a law which impacts the suspect’s case. Today, we will substantiate this idea by talking about probable cause and how it impacts DWI cases.

What Is Probable Cause?

Probable cause is an established legal reason that gives officers the right to exercise their authority. Probable cause impacts a variety of criminal cases because police cannot lawfully search, stop, question, or detain a citizen without first establishing probable cause.

The state grants its officers certain authorities to do their jobs; one of these authorities is the ability to pull over drivers. However, police can’t go around and pull over whomever they want; they can only pull over drivers when they can establish probable cause.

Probable Cause in Traffic Stops

A Texas officer can establish and argue for probable cause in a traffic stop leading to a DWI charge for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Having an out-of-date registration;
  • Having a broken taillight;
  • Speeding;
  • Swerving;
  • Driver’s failure to put on turn signal;
  • Driver’s failure to turn on headlights in dangerous conditions.

If an officer cannot establish probable cause, he or she cannot legally pull someone over and arrest the driver. Therefore, if an officer pulls someone over without probable cause, then any arrest he or she makes as a result of that traffic stop will typically not hold up in court. As a result, if a driver is charged with a DWI after blowing a 0.08% BAC and failing the field sobriety tests, but was stopped by an officer who didn’t have probable cause, the case will likely not hold up in court.

Probable Cause to Make an Arrest for DWI

Even if an officer makes a routine traffic stop, and has probable cause to do so, they must still have probable cause to administer a breath or blood test, search your vehicle, or make an arrest for DWI. Probable cause could be established if the officer notices an odor of drugs or alcohol coming from the vehicle, physical behaviors, and characteristics indicating intoxication, or drugs, alcohol, or paraphernalia in plain view.

According to data provided by the Jacksonville DUI lawyers at Monroe & King, P.A., police officers will often look for signs of intoxication by administering preliminary tests. For example, statistics show that 83% of people who fail a one-leg stand test will have a BAC above the legal limit, and 88% of people who fail a horizontal gaze nystagmus test will have a BAC above the legal limit.

Additional Methods for Identifying DWI Intoxication

Probable cause is an essential part of every DWI case, as an establishment of probable cause can be the difference between a conviction or a charge getting dropped.

If you’ve been charged with a DWI, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help. Call (512) 359-3743 now for a free consultation concerning your case!