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Reasonable suspicion and valid grounds for a DUI traffic stop

In Texas, drunk driving charges can bring serious penalties, even for first-time offenders. For this reason, you know it is important to fight the charges against you and pursue a beneficial outcome to your case. One of the first steps in building a strong defense is to look at the initial DWI traffic stop to determine if law enforcement had valid grounds to pull you over.

When a driver exhibits certain behaviors, law enforcement can reasonably suspect that the person is intoxicated. Reasonable suspicion can come after observing any type of erratic or dangerous driving. At this point, a police officer could stop a driver for a brief investigation, which may include field sobriety tests and a chemical test.

What behaviors are suspicious?

Reasonable suspicion is a standard that exists to protect the rights of all drivers. Law enforcement cannot target drivers, and suspected DWI traffic stops should only happen for valid reasons. Some of the behaviors that can give a law enforcement officer reasonable suspicion include the following:

  • Swerving
  • Straddling the center line
  • Braking and accelerating erratically
  • Stopping in the road or intersection for no reason
  • Hitting or almost hitting other vehicles

While there should be a valid reason for a traffic stop, this is not an exhaustive list. A police officer has the right to pull a driver over for any suspicious behavior that could indicate intoxication.

Additionally, law enforcement has the right to investigate if they have reasonable suspicion after pulling a driver over for another reason. For example, if they pulled a driver over for speeding, yet smelled alcohol when speaking with the driver, police could ask the driver to submit to field sobriety tests. 

Fighting your DWI

One of the first things to examine in your effort to build a strong defense against a DWI is the validity of the original traffic stop. If you are the victim of an illegal stop or you experienced a violation of your rights in any way during the course of the suspected DWI traffic stop, you have the right to fight back

A thorough investigation of your situation can reveal the options that are available to you. Your strong defense against a drunk driving charge can start as soon as possible after an arrest. Whether it is your first offense or you have previous DWI convictions on your record, you have no time to lose in fighting for the protection of your rights and interests.

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