Law enforcement regularly claims their motto is to “protect and serve.” This often means undertaking welfare checks on individuals that may be in distress. No matter the stated welfare intention of the officers, these welfare checks often result in the arrest of the person they are checking on. This was the case on May 6, 2020, when officers arrested a naked man asleep in his car for driving while intoxicated (DWI) after neighbors reported a man passed out in a car.
On the date of the arrest, deputies from the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office responded to a call for a welfare check at the 6100 Block of North Sam Houston Parkway West. According to a statement issued by the Constable's Office, the responding officers noticed the man in the vehicle was completely nude. The statement went on to say that the officers witnessed signs of intoxication from the man – 53-year-old Houston resident Thomas Gorsuch.
According to the arrest report, officers ordered him to get dressed and get out of the car. The deputies claim Gorsuch refused to comply with their orders, ultimately resisting the officers when they attempted to detain him. After Gorsuch completed the standardized field sobriety tests, he was arrested for DWI and interfering with public duties.
Interfering with Public Duties
In addition to the DWI charge Gorsuch faces, he has also been charged with Interference with Public Duties. This offense is similar to resisting arrest, but is typically used in cases where a person is resisting in a non-violent manner. The statute applies to a wide range of actions including disrupting or interfering with anything from firefighters investigating the cause of a fire or a citizen communicating over a band radio channel in an effort to inquire about an emergency.
In a DWI-related scenario, this offense involves interfering with
[a] peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law.
This offense is a Class B misdemeanor. Upon conviction, you could face up to 180 days in jail as well as a maximum fine of $2,000.
Complying with Officer's Orders
If you feel you are wrongfully under suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, it is understandable that your instincts are to refuse to cooperate. Fighting back against a wrongful arrest or holding the state to their burden of proof is within your rights.
However, there is a fine line between exercising your legal rights and resisting a lawful order by a police officer. You are legally entitled to refuse to answer any questions. You can also legally decline to participate in either the field sobriety tests or even refuse a breathalyzer. Physically resisting arrest or refusing to provide your identification to an officer is not only outside of your legal rights, but it can also hurt your defense in your pending DWI case.
Complying with these types of requests (e.g., identifying information) from the arresting officer will keep you safe and give your Houston DWI defense lawyer the strongest case possible to work with.