An off-duty Bexar County Sheriff's Department deputy has resigned following an arrest for suspected driving while intoxicated and drug possession. The arrest came after the officer was observed crashing into a concrete barrier.
Sheriff Javier Salazar commented that the former deputy decided to resign rather than undergo an investigation. He had been placed on administrative leave and ordered to submit to a drug test but instead chose to resign later that afternoon.
The former deputy had been with the department for five and a half years. Sheriff Salazar stated that there was nothing remarkable in the deputy's record to suggest that prior disciplinary problems.
Law enforcement officers were dispatched to the scene of the accident after a witness reported seeing a suspected DWI driver. Officers who conducted a search of the vehicle found what they suspected to be hash oil after conducting a field test.
The former deputy was released from jail after posting a $5,000 bond.
Records indicate that this is the 23rd time a Bexar County deputy has been arrested this year. The Department has hired a psychologist to assist with pre-employment screenings, critical incident management, and SWAT team negotiations.
Reasonable Suspicion, Probable Cause, and DWI arrests
To arrest a person for driving while intoxicated, police must have probable cause, meaning the officer has enough information to believe the person was committing an offense. It is important to remember that the standard for probable cause is much less than the reasonable doubt burden of proof for the state in court.
Officers look at driving clues -- like swerving or failing to obey traffic signals -- to first establish reasonable suspicion, which gives the officer the right to stop a person and investigate. In this case, likely the crash and the phone call to dispatch about a suspected drunk driver provided officers with reasonable suspicion that the deputy had been intoxicated while operating his vehicle. Other observations -- like the smell of intoxicants, bloodshot watery eyes, and slurred speech -- provided enough for probable cause, which is needed in order for the officer to make an arrest.
If police suspect that a person is intoxicated by substances other than alcohol, they may request an examination by a certified drug recognition expert (DRE). DREs are controversial and can be challenged, but that said, they are officers who receive additional training beyond the field training that DWI recognition officers receive and are trained to look for additional clues such as a suspect's pupil size that could indicate intoxication by a substance other than alcohol. After performing a full DRE examination, a drug recognition expert may ask for a urine sample to confirm their findings. Officers must obtain a warrant to collect a blood sample.
Any suspected drug evidence must be submitted to the state crime lab for further testing. For example, in this case, officers performed a field test of suspected hash oil. A more thorough test must be conducted to confirm these findings since field testing is not always accurate. Evidence must be properly stored, labeled, secured and transported. If police fail to do these things properly, it may be possible to beat a DWI charge by challenging the chain of custody required for the evidence to be admissible.
Consequences of DWI charges
A DWI charge can come with many serious consequences, like the loss of a job, loss of security clearance, fines, jail time, and suspension of driving privileges. It is important to contact an experienced DWI lawyer right away because many of these consequences -- like suspension of your driving privilege -- can occur before the case proceeds to trial.
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