Denton DWI Attorney

What is Probable Cause?

An arrest for driving while intoxicated, DWI, can have devastating professional, social, and personal effects on an individual. However, for a DWI charge to stand in Texas, certain constitutional requirements must be met—or else the charges may be reduced or dismissed altogether. Attorney Brent D. Bowen is an experienced Denton DWI defense attorney who aggressively defends you when your constitutional rights have been violated by law enforcement. Attorney Bowen has successfully represented many individuals facing DWI charges and is prepared to provide a free evaluation of your case.

The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that citizens shall not be subjected to “unreasonable searches and seizures” and that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…” Therefore, the Fourth Amendment provides that a law enforcement officer must have probable cause before arresting someone for committing a crime, or before conducting a search of an individual’s person or property. But what is probable cause?

In general, probable cause requires that an officer have evidence or facts that would cause a reasonable individual to believe that a crime has been committed. For example, the smell of marijuana in a car would lead a reasonable person to conclude that someone in the car has been smoking the substance.

To arrest someone for DWI in Texas, a law enforcement officer must have probable cause that the crime existed. The officer must also have reasonable suspicion to pull the driver over in the first place. Reasonable suspicion is a lesser standard than probable cause; it is a reasonable belief based on the officer’s observations that a crime has been or will be committed (or is currently being committed). An officer’s training and experience may determine whether he or she feels that there is reasonable suspicion to stop a car.

What is probable cause in a DWI claim?

An individual may be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) if “the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.” According to Texas law, “intoxicated” means “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of drugs, alcohol…or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.”

Law enforcement officers must see evidence that a driver is actually intoxicated before an arrest may be made. Evidence of intoxication may include:

  • The smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath or person
  • Open alcohol containers in the vehicle
  • The driver’s failure to pass a field sobriety test, such as the walk-and-turn test, the one-legged stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test
  • The driver’s confession that he or she is drunk or had consumed alcoholic beverages before driving that impaired them

These findings may be used by an officer to arrest an individual for driving while intoxicated.

Defenses to DWI charges

There are a number of defenses that may be available in a DWI case. For example, there may be legitimate reasons as to why a driver failed a field sobriety test. Some drivers may suffer from physical conditions that inhibit their ability to hold up one leg or walk in a straight line. Further, some others may have conditions that cause them to fail the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, during which the officer observes the driver’s eyes for involuntary movements. With the assistance of an experienced, savvy Denton criminal defense attorney, a driver charged with DWI is able to raise any defenses available. Some defenses include common law defenses such as necessity.

If you are facing driving while intoxicated charges, contact skilled Denton DWI attorney today for a free consultation

If you are facing DWI charges, contact experienced Denton DWI attorney Brent D. Bowen as soon as possible to discuss your case. We are eager to help you both inside and outside of the courtroom – often offering referrals to those who may need the assistance of a mental health counselor or addiction specialist. To schedule your free consultation with criminal defense attorney Bowen, call (940) 222-2488 or contact us online.