According to data provided by the Harris County Sheriff's Office, there have been more than 10,000 DWI charges filed in Houston this year alone. The records also reflect a 74 percent increase in DWI arrests compared to the previous year. This number averages to more than 40 DWI arrests in Harris County every day.
At first glance, it might seem as though the nation has plunged into a DWI epidemic after years of declining DWI numbers. However, there is little to suggest this is the case. In the last ten years, the rate of DWIs in Texas has declined by more than three percent, which is consistent with the national trend of declining DWI rates.
Another possibility is that the pressure on law enforcement to enforce DWI laws has pushed officers to make arrests that were unwarranted. There are several ways in which wrongful DWI arrests could occur.
Wrongful DWI Arrests in Harris County
Innocent people face criminal charges on a daily basis. While most focus on wrongful convictions of crimes like murder, the reality is that there are likely more wrongful DWI arrests than any other charge. There are a few reasons why these wrongful arrests might occur.
Pressure from Above
It is no secret that elected officials love to celebrate DWI arrest and conviction statistics. In many cases, this desire for results translates into pressure on law enforcement to meet certain DWI benchmarks. When law enforcement becomes focused on statistics, innocent people are often arrested.
When officers allow their personal feelings or biases to get in the way, it is the general public that suffers. Without realizing it, law enforcement officers can act on their own biases in ways that lead to a wrongful arrest. These biases could relate to race, religion, nation of origin, or other factors.
Lack of Probable Cause
Many officers act on instinct, trusting their gut over the evidence they have at their disposal. In many cases, officers will make a DWI arrest despite any direct evidence of intoxication. While these arrests often result in a dismissal, the impact the arrest has can last forever.
Field Sobriety Errors
Field sobriety tests play a large role in many DWI arrests. Unfortunately, these tests are highly unreliable in most cases. When it comes to identifying intoxication from drugs or narcotics, these tests are meaningless. Despite this fact, officers routinely misuse these tests prior to a wrongful DWI arrest.
Consult with a Houston DWI Defense Lawyer
Even though wrongful DWI arrests can happen to anyone, they do not have to result in a conviction. In many cases where an arrest is wrongful, a skilled defense lawyer could establish that the arrest was inappropriate.
If you have been arrested for DWI in Harris County, let attorney Doug Murphy review your case. Doug Murphy has extensive experience defending Harris County DWI cases. Call the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away to schedule your free consultation with a Board Certified expert in DWI defense law.