Allegations of driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses are among the most common criminal charges in Texas. Police officers are on the roads every day looking for signs of impaired driving, and they frequently demand chemical tests from everyone involved in car crashes to screen them for intoxication.
If the police ever pull you over for suspicion of a DWI offense, they will need to gather evidence that confirms their suspicions to convince a prosecutor to bring charges against you. What steps do police officers take during a traffic stop to determine if someone is under the influence?
They speak to the driver
The first stage in the traffic stop process is where the officer approaches the vehicle and informs the driver of why they pulled them over. They will then typically follow off with a few questions.
These questions may include inquiries into if you have had anything to drink and how much you consumed. Your answers may provide the police officer with justification to ask you to exit your vehicle either because the answers indicate you may have broken the law or that you lied.
They will have you perform field sobriety tests
The faint smell of alcohol or the admission that you have had a beer or two isn’t enough to arrest you and charge you with a crime. The officer will have you step out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests.
These standardized tests can help gauge someone for chemical impairment, and the video of the tests can play a role in criminal court. Your performance on those tests could also justify the officer’s request for a chemical breath test.
They demand a breath test
The final stage in the evidence-gathering process at the side of the road during a traffic stop for a DWI scenario involves a chemical breath test. If the driver produces a result that is over the legal limit or if other circumstances make the officer believe they experienced impairment despite not being over the limit, they may address you for a DWI at that point.
You may still have options for defending yourself against those charges, such as challenging the accuracy of the breath test or claiming that the traffic stop itself was illegal. Understanding how police develop the basis for successful DWI charges can help you determine the best defense strategy.