Law enforcement authorities take drinking and driving seriously in Texas. After all, the Houston area has one of the highest rates of deadly DWI accidents in the entire country. As a result, they place a high priority on DWI arrests. Now, whether those arrests will stand up to scrutiny in court depends in large part on the training of the officers performing the arrests. While Houston police officers go through training to perform DWI stops and tests in the field, things can still go wrong. When officers aren't adequately trained or fail to follow procedures, potentially innocent people can face arrest.
Houston Police Department Training Process
In Houston--and all throughout Texas--police officers go through specialized training for DWI stops, including Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, and the Drug Evaluation Classification Program.
1. Standardized Field Sobriety Testing
The Texas Standardized Field Sobriety Testing program is an offshoot of a national program created by the NHTSA. The program offers free training to Texas peace officers to “improve the administration and consistency of DWI investigation and enforcement” through a 24-hour practitioner course, an 8-hour refresher course, and a 50-hour instructor course. While the program purports to make field sobriety testing more standardized across the country, this testing still relies on the subjective evaluations of police officers who aren't trained medical professionals.
2. DWI Stop Training
In Texas, police departments also use the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) program developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). ARIDE is a program intended to bridge gaps between the field sobriety testing program and DRE training. The program gives officers general knowledge of drug impairment and requires that police officers demonstrate proficiency in conducting field sobriety testing.
3. Drug Evaluation Classification Program Training
The Drug Evaluation Classification Program, also called DRE training, is a nationally standardized training that purportedly allows police officers to detect and identify people impaired by drugs or alcohol. The program trains officers to conduct a 12-step evaluation with physical, mental, and medical components. The DRE steps rely heavily on field sobriety testing and BAC results.
DWI Defenses That Can Result from Improper Police Training
If police officers aren't well trained in DWI procedures and testing or if they fail to follow proper procedures during a DWI stop, your attorney may be able to challenge a DWI arrest on one of several grounds, including:
- The police officer didn't have reasonable suspicion for the initial traffic stop,
- The officer failed to conduct or evaluate field sobriety tests properly,
- The officer failed to conduct a breathalyzer BAC test properly or failed to maintain the equipment properly,
- The health professional performing the blood BAC test failed to follow procedures properly or clean and maintain the equipment, or
- The officer's testimony about your arrest isn't consistent with police procedures or other evidence like eyewitness testimony, dashcam video, or other video evidence.
Hire an Expert in Texas DWI Defense
Attorney Doug Murphy is Board Certified in both DWI defense and criminal law. He is one of only two attorneys in Texas Board Certified in both legal specialties. U.S. News and World Report recently named Doug a Best Lawyer in America for DWI defense in Houston for 2021. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C., online or at 713-229-8333 to set up a consultation.
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