It's late at night and maybe you just left a bar or maybe you didn't, but a police officer pulls you over. You can't recall anything you did wrong. Were you speeding? No. Did you swerve? No. Did you accelerate unexpectedly but for no apparent reason? No. Did you forget to use your turn signal? No. Did you fail to turn on your lights? No. Are your registration tags up to date? Yes. So what's the point of the sirens wailing behind you?
Overzealous Houston police officers and Texas highway patrolmen--that's what.
In Houston specifically and Texas generally, so-called law enforcement agents tend to love the power they wield and they like to do so against unsuspecting persons whom they assume must be driving while intoxicated because it's late at night and/or they were witnessed leaving a bar or nightclub or other entertainment establishment. Many police officers will monitor nightclubs and bars at night, waiting for you to come out and get into your vehicle. They'll follow you for a minute, maybe two, before putting on the sirens. And then once you are pulled over, they'll put on their "gotcha" personas and walk over to your vehicle and ask, "Do you know why I stopped you?" While they wait for an answer, they shine their flashlight into the vehicle to see what they can see.
The first thing to note here: You are under no obligation to answer that question. You are only obligated to provide your identifying information (e.g., driver's license), registration, and auto insurance information.
The second thing to note: Heed your intuition telling you something's not right. Because something may not be right.
Indications an Officer Lacked Reasonable Suspicion to Pull You Over
In Texas as well as throughout the United States, the police cannot pull you over simply because you left a bar late at night. The police officer must have reasonable suspicion that you committed or are in the act of committing illegal activity. In DWI cases, this often begins with a simple traffic violation, like failing to use the signal to cross lanes. But if you know you didn't commit any traffic violation or any other violation, then there is a good chance the police officer pulled you over on account of a hunch -- given the late hour and the location.
If the officer cannot indicate clearly why he or she pulled you over, then that's a red flag, too. Occasions when this happens more frequently are holidays and the weekends -- all typically at night. But it can happen any time and for any reason.
When to Contact Houston's Best DWI Lawyer to Challenge a Bad Stop that Led to a DWI Charge
Officers use reasonable suspicion to pull persons over, and once pulled over, a DWI investigation can begin. If there is a reason to believe you are driving while illegally intoxicated, then you can be arrested. But the lawfulness of that arrest is based on the lawfulness of the traffic stop. A bad stop means your case can be thrown out and Houston's best DWI specialist will fight for that end.
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