What Happens From The Point Of Being Pulled Over On Suspicion Of DWI To The Arrest, To The Plea Or Trial Or Sentencing?
Often, someone will be pulled over because they have committed a traffic offense. They ran a red light, they were speeding, they did not have their lights on, or something similar. As a result, the police officer pulls them over in the State of Texas. The police officers do not like you to get out of the car; they want you to stay in the car till they approach. As the police officer approaches, if he determines or suspects that the person has been drinking alcohol, he will often ask them, “Have you been drinking or consuming any alcohol?” Often people will answer, “Yes”. Well, that just heightens the police officer’s suspicions that the person might be intoxicated.
Almost all of the police agencies and police vehicles in Houston have video recorders on them. The police officers usually park behind the person they have pulled over and when they have asked the person they suspect of being intoxicated to step out of the vehicle, all of their actions are being recorded on video. Often, the police officers are wearing a microphone, so anything they say or utter is also being recorded on the audio of that video. Then the officer would ask them some questions about where they have been, where they are coming. He is asking these questions to see if they have their mental faculties, if they are making sense or not. Do they know where they are driving? Do they know why the officer pulled them over?
Often, the officer will ask questions about, “When is the last time you ate, where have you been, did you have any alcohol?” He is trying to get the person to offer some evidence against themselves as to whether or not they have been drinking. Once the police officer has established that either he smells alcohol and/or the person has been drinking, he will often ask them to do field sobriety tests. Usually, the first field sobriety test is what is called a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test or HGN.
Basically, the officer is testing the movement in the eyes to see if there is a nystagmus, which is a voluntary shaking of the eye. The police officers are trained to believe that if someone is headed straight and they are looking as far as they can to maybe their right or their left and their eye shakes when it comes to the maximum point of their vision, then the officers are trained to believe that that shows an introduction of alcohol into the person’s system. They will score that.
It is basically scored in three different ways so they will score that HGN test. Then they will often ask them to do other field sobriety tests, either the one leg stand where the person stands on one foot of their choosing holds the other leg up approximately six inches, looks at their toe, keeps their hand to their side and counts to approximately thirty seconds. During that test, the officer is looking to see if the person can keep their balance and if they can follow directions.
The next test is often the walk and turn test where the officer asks them to stand on an imaginary line, one foot in front of the other and take nine heel-to-toe steps. At the end of the ninth step, they are required to do a turn and then take nine steps back. The officer is scoring each one of those field sobriety tests. Based on the officer’s scoring of the test, they will often make an arrest for the suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
At some point in time, after the arrest has been made, the officer will ask the person if they wish to submit to a breath test. People are advised not to submit to the breath test. That is your constitutional right to not submit to the breath test, but in Harris County, if you do not submit to the breath test, then the police agency in Harris County will seek a search warrant from a judge to have your blood drawn from you, even forcibly if need be. They will analyze the blood to see if there is any alcohol.
It is now advised to actually take the breath test because breath tests are much easier to defeat sometimes than the blood test. If you refuse the breath test, then they will forcibly take your blood in the State of Texas. Therefore, the person’s breath or blood test is taken. That is usually done at the station or at the medical facility. Often, there may be some field sobriety tests that are also videotaped at the station if they were not videotaped at the scene. After that, the person is arrested and processed.
If you need information about the Order of Events in a DWI Case, call the law office of James Alston for a FREE Consultation at (713) 228-1400 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.
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