What Does The Police Officer Need In Order To Arrest Me? What Does The State Need At Court In Order To Obtain A Conviction For A DWI Charge In Texas?
DWI is one of only two “opinion” crimes in the entire Texas penal code. The other being public intoxication, and the common factor between the two is the element of intoxication. The definition of intoxication is a particularly vague and ambiguous standard of what a person’s “normal use” is. Based on this, it is entirely a subjective standard and based on the inferences and observations of a police officer who has never met a person before, yet is given the authority to evaluate and determine whether a person has lost their “normal use” of their physical and/or mental faculties. The officer has never met the arrested individual previously, and they are tasked with the job of determining what a total stranger’s “normal” use is. It’s completely at the discretion of the police officer, and they really do not have much to prove when making an arrest.
I have never seen a situation, or even heard of one, where an officer was chastised or reprimanded for making a bad DWI arrest. In fact, I once heard a Police Chief in a very large city in Texas say in the news how “he trains his officer to make DWI arrests, and then they let the courts can sort it all out later.” In other words, police officers do not need much other than their own, subjective opinion. If you perform the sobriety tests, most likely they will form the opinion that you have lost normal use and you will be placed under arrest. If you refuse the tests, they will arrest you based on that refusal. It’s a very low standard, so much so it should scare people to NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE!
Police do need to have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop or to make contact with an individual to detain them, and then also must have probable cause to make an arrest. In the DWI context, that could mean just about anything, and I have seen videos and arrest reports that are nearly perfect, yet an arrest was still made. This is because this probable cause standard is substantially lower than what a jury decides in a trial when the trier of the act is tasked with determining whether a person is intoxicated with proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The state must prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard in our entire criminal justice system. However, there is a large gulf between probable cause to make an arrest and proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict in court. Regardless, the police do not need much other than their own opinion. If you perform the sobriety tests, they will be of the opinion that you have lost normal use and arrest you. If you refuse the tests, they will arrest you based on that refusal.
Can The Police Use Any Of My Statements Against Me After I’ve Been Arrested For A DWI?
Any statements and/or answers you give to the police when questioned will absolutely be used against you. You are also being likely audio and video recorded for later use at a hearing or trial. This is the main reason why one should be polite but should say as little as possible. It is likely an arrest will be made, but you are helping out your attorney later in court when mounting a viable defense. Once the arrest is made, then invoke your right to an attorney and make clear that you DO NOT want to give any statements or make conversation. Simply ask for your attorney and try to end the interaction at that point. Give them as little evidence as possible. Let your attorney contest it in court later. Everything is usually recorded by their dash-cam or their body cam. Everything you say on the roadside and in the police car is being filmed and that’s why it’s incredibly important to be polite. Even if you’re not intoxicated, if you’re a jerk, rude and seem arrogant or cocky, juries and judges can very much hold that against a person and possibly convict based on that alone. Sometimes after the arrest, they will usually read a person what is commonly termed the DIC statutory warnings. It includes what will happen to your driver’s license if you refuse to give a chemical specimen, whether it’s breath or blood, or if you give a specimen that’s above a 0.08. It has to be read and is almost always recorded. It’s a very convoluted document with many references to penal codes and alcoholic beverage code. Most people will not understand it. However, anything the officer advises outside of simply reading the DIC statutory warning can be considered coercion.
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