Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

How Texas law enforcement officers spot possible drunk drivers

As we discussed in a post earlier this year, a police officer in Texas needs to have a reasonable suspicion a crime is being committed before stopping a vehicle to question the driver and investigate further. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published a list of some of the visual cues police officers should look for that may indicate a driver is intoxicated and will justify a DWI stop.

Weaving, or moving back and forth within the lane or across multiple lanes, is probably the classic drunk driving indicator. Other visual indicators related to lane position include crossing or straddling the center line, driving on the shoulder and turning with an unusually wide radius.

Visual indicators related to speed and braking include driving excessively slow; suddenly slowing down or accelerating; stopping far short of an intersection or in the middle of the intersection; and stopping too abruptly. Other indicators include making illegal turns or failing to signal turns; driving the wrong way on a one-way street; failing to yield the right of way; and driving at night without headlights.

Those who are charged with drunk driving in Texas face serious penalties if convicted. A lack of reasonable basis for the stop can provide grounds to dismiss the charges. This defense can sometimes be based on a review of the arrest record, the police dashboard video recording or cross-examination of the arresting officer at trial. An aggressive DWI defense approach could be the best strategy to fight drunk driving charges.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "The Visual Detection of DWI Motorists," accessed June 6, 2015

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