A Houston police officer has been arrested after a witness reported that he struck a guardrail and was weaving on the shoulder of Interstate 69 near Hillcroft. The witness began following the officer, who was driving a white Toyota Camry with a flat tire during the incident. The officer re-entered the roadway after reaching the Bellaire exit. He finally exited the roadway near Beechnut and struck the left and right curb of the exit lane while exiting the interstate.
The vehicle finally stopped at a Toyota dealership, where the witness reported his car was smoking. The car eventually caught fire. Police arrived at approximately 10:25 am. The officer reported that he remembered hitting a curb but not striking the guardrail. He claimed that he was unaware that his tire was flat or that the vehicle was smoking. He reported driving to the dealership for routine service on his vehicle.
The officer was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Police reported the man was swaying while standing still, talked slowly, slurred his speech, and was slow to answer questions.
The officer was sworn in as an officer in 1998 and was a senior officer in the department's Public Affairs Division. He has since been suspended without pay pending an internal affairs investigation.
Prosecuting a Texas Senior Officer Charged with DWI
No one is above the law, even if you are a so-called law-enforced, like this police officer. Likewise, even though he is not above the law and is subject to a DWI charge, he is still owed the right to defend himself and the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty. To make a DWI conviction stick, the prosecutor must prove all elements of the offense. Elements of a DWI offense include intoxication and operating a motor vehicle on a public road.
Intoxication is proved most usually by the results of a chemical test (e.g., breath or blood test). Though these tests can be challenged effectively, they are still the State's best evidence of intoxication. A public road includes just about any road where the public is permitted to drive. Operating a vehicle, however, can prove to be more problematic because operating a vehicle may also be applied to cases where the driver was not even driving or seen driving by the police.
In the above case, the police arrived when the senior officer was in a parking lot, not driving or “operating” a motor vehicle. In a typical DWI case, it is common for police to pull a driver over after noticing a traffic violation. Normally, to arrest a person for a misdemeanor without an arrest warrant, police must see the illegal conduct. However, police can make inferences that a crime has occurred.
In this case, a witness reported that they saw the officer driving the vehicle when it struck the guardrail and that the vehicle was swerving along the shoulder along the interstate. A witness report is just one way that officers investigating a DWI may infer that a person was driving while intoxicated. Another common scenario occurs when police are dispatched to investigate a crash and find a driver who appears intoxicated. When the driver has already exited the vehicle by the time law enforcement officers have arrived to investigate, police may question other individuals at the scene about who was driving and may look for signs of physical evidence.
It is important to remember that people are watching, so watch what you are doing. In the event you are charged with a DWI and police did not actually see you driving -- like in the above case -- never say anything to the police, but contact a DWI specialist. A defense leading to the charges dismissal or your acquittal can be built.