When Is a DWI Stop Illegal?

When Is a DWI Stop Illegal?Protecting the people from injustice and harm is the main goal of laws in the first place. Upholding an American’s Constitutional rights must always come first, no matter who is involved or what the citizen is accused of doing.

Of course, just because that is the law, does not mean it is always respected. Quotas and other pressures may encourage overzealous law enforcement officers to make unlawful stops and arrests. For something as serious as a DWI stop or arrest, the charges and consequences that can bring can follow people for the rest of their lives. If you are wrongfully stopped and charged with a DWI, you need to act now to preserve your rights — and your freedom.

Understanding reasonable suspicion in Central Texas

Police in Central Texas arrest hundreds of people throughout the state every year on suspicion of drunk or impaired driving. Festivals, parties, and parades usually all come with an uptick of these stops and arrests, as it is assumed people are likelier to drive under the influence after a public celebration of some sort. While this idea is not without precedence, and while driving under any sort of influence is indeed dangerous, officers seem all too eager to arrest as many people as possible.

This is where the legality becomes an issue. the Lone Star state famously sees DWI checkpoints as breaches of the 4th Amendment, and regular traffic stops can only be made if there is reasonable suspicion a crime is being committed. Arbitrary reasons such as your skin color, your type of car, or where you came from are not examples of reasonable suspicion, and cannot be used as an excuse to pull someone over. They must be able to prove you actually committed a traffic violation to cause the stop, such as swerving, speeding, running a light, or any other reckless behavior.

In other words, it must be based on more than a hunch or bias. Anything less is a breach of the law, and while you may not be able to personally go after your arresting officer, you may be able to have any “evidence” collected by them deemed inadmissible in court. In many cases, that’s the easiest way to have the charges against you dropped.

How can a Killeen DWI defense attorney help me?

DWIs come with steep, expensive, life-following consequences even for the most minor of offenses. Seen as a crime of morality and carelessness, a conviction could mean that, outside of jail time and any fines, you find yourself unable to buy a car or rent a home. You might have trouble finding a job at all, and this is regardless of whether or not you are actually guilty. If you’re convicted, you’re seen as guilty and treated as such, and that’s that.

So, of course, these are not charges you want to keep (not that any are). Those charged with something this serious should act fast to get a Killeen and Copperas Cove DWI defense attorney working on their case. A good attorney knows how to tailor their defense to your specific circumstances to hit the prosecution where it hurts on your behalf. Common effective defenses include:

  • Challenging the right of the police officer who stopped you by questioning the reasonable suspicion that led to you being stopped in the first place. If the stop was unlawful, anything your arresting officer collected as evidence would be inadmissible and thrown out.
  • Asserting that any statements you made violated your Fifth Amendment rights, which would also prevent them from being held against you in court.
  • Asserting that any field sobriety tests or breath tests were invalid, due to them being administered improperly or by unqualified officers.
  • Contesting that the specific terms of the felony DWI statutes were met, if applicable — especially if this would not be your first offense.
  • Asserting lack of probable cause for the initial stop and/or arrest. This is different from reasonable suspicion; both must be present for an actual arrest to happen rather than just a stop.
  • Arguing that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and otherwise calling its reliability into question.
  • Claiming misconduct on behalf of the police officer that made the stop, including harassment.
  • Other legal and factual issues relevant to your legal defense that your attorney would discuss with you.

Being arrested for any reason can be terrifying, exhausting, and intimidating. Even just being pulled over out of the blue can be traumatic, especially if you’re coerced into humiliating field sobriety tests on the side of the road. But while it may be tempting to avoid hiring an attorney, we promise this will not make anything easier or cheaper for you in the long run. In fact, attempting to face such complicated, aggressive charges alone can almost guarantee you’ll be convicted — innocent or not.

Once you are suspected of driving under the influence, law enforcement has a nasty habit of treating you like a criminal by default. Your rights will not matter to them as much as they should, and without taking steps to protect yourself, they are likely to get away with it while you spend undeserving time behind bars and lose all your savings to the court.

The Killeen and Copperas Cove DWI defense attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm have decades of experience advocating for people — not criminals, people — just like you. We know how stressful and overwhelming these cases can be, and we want to shoulder as much of that as we can while we defend your rights. With offices in Killeen and Copperas Cove, we are there where and when you need us. Call us today at 254-680-4655 or use our contact form to get started on putting this all behind you.