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Posted on in DWI / DUI

Anonymous Tips Can Justify DWI StopsA police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a driver has committed an offense in order to legally stop the driver. For cases of driving while intoxicated, the officer usually must witness driver behavior that suggests that the driver is impaired. A 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling set a precedent that an officer can stop a vehicle based on an anonymous tip, even if the officer does not witness the alleged behavior. If your DWI arrest stemmed from an anonymous tip, your defense can question the credibility of the tip and argue that it did not create enough reasonable suspicion to allow the officer to legally stop you. Your defense will ask several questions about the nature of the anonymous tip:

  1. How Detailed Was the Tip?: A witness providing a credible tip about a drunk driver should say more than “I saw a drunk driver.” Did the anonymous source describe why he or she thought the driver was drunk? Was the source personally affected by the driver’s behavior? Did the source sound coherent when giving the explanation? The prosecution has a heavy burden to prove the credibility of the tip because it cannot prove the source’s personal credibility.
  2. Did the Information Create a Reasonable Suspicion?: An anonymous source is likely a private citizen who is not trained to judge whether a driver may be impaired. Some driving mistakes do not reach the level of impaired driving, but the witness still reports it as suspicious activity. The witness may have seen a supposedly intoxicated person walking towards his or her car without seeing that person actually get in the vehicle and drive away.
  3. How Was the Tip Reported?: Courts find an anonymous tip to be more credible if the person giving the tip believes that he or she may not remain anonymous. A person is unlikely to make a false report by calling 911 because the operator can trace the call. However, that idea assumes that the person knows that emergency responders have caller ID. The defense will question the credibility of any witness who did not wish to identify him or herself to the police.
  4. Is There a Transcript of the Conversation?: A recorded call of the anonymous tip provides a clear record of what the witness said. The defense can analyze the recording for inconsistencies or evidence that the tip was not credible. Without a recording, the prosecution relies on the testimony of the person who received the tip. The defense can question that person’s memory of what the anonymous source said and how the person interpreted that information.

Illegal Stops

Police officers will use unreliable anonymous tips to stop drivers for suspicion of DWI. A San Antonio DWI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock can dismantle the prosecution’s case by proving that the initial traffic stop was illegal. To schedule a free consultation, call 888-726-5625.

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Police Increase DWI Enforcement During No Refusal WeekendsIt is common to see local law enforcement promote no-refusal periods for people suspected of driving while intoxicated. Holidays, such as the upcoming Labor Day weekend, are a popular time for celebrating, which can increase the number of people who are drinking and driving. No-refusal weekends often coincide with these periods in order to punish those who break DWI laws and dissuade others from drinking and driving. Police departments increase their resources to make it more difficult for suspects to avoid blood alcohol concentration tests.

Implied Consent and No Refusal

No refusal refers to circumstances in which a DWI suspect cannot legally refuse to submit to a BAC test, such as a providing a blood or breath sample. Texas has an implied consent law that states that anyone who is allowed to drive in the state has also consented to cooperate with a BAC test. Refusing the test will result in an automatic suspension of the suspect’s driver’s license and can be used as evidence against the suspect in a DWI case. However, some courts have ruled that the implied consent law violates a suspect’s rights under the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits searching a person without a warrant. In this case, police obtain blood from the suspect in order to search for evidence of intoxication. To get around this defense, police can request a warrant to obtain a suspect’s blood sample. Refusing the warrant would be a criminal offense.

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How an Open Alcohol Container Affects a DWI CaseBeing convicted for possession of an open alcohol container in the passenger area of a vehicle is essentially a traffic ticket if there are no other related charges. In Texas, it is a class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of as much as $500. However, an open alcohol container charge is sometimes coupled with a driving while intoxicated charge. Having an open alcohol container is an aggravating factor in a DWI case and may increase your punishment if you are convicted.

What Is an Open Container?

An open alcohol container is any receptacle holding alcohol that shows signs of being used. This includes when:

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Resisting Arrest Compounds Charges in DWI CaseWhether or not you believe it is justified, it is important to be respectful and reasonably cooperative towards a police officer when stopped for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. You are entitled to defend your rights if you believe the officer is ignoring proper procedure during a DWI stop, but acting belligerent will antagonize the officer and escalate the situation. Compliance is particularly important if the officer decides to arrest you on suspicion of DWI. Prosecutors can add evading or resisting arrest to your DWI case. Even if your original DWI charge is dismissed, you could still be convicted on these charges.

Evading Arrest

Some DWI suspects attempt to flee when they realize they are about to be arrested. Texas law defines evading arrest as when:

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Driving Without License Can Hurt DWI DefenseDriving without a valid driver’s license is a relatively minor charge in Texas when compared to driving while intoxicated. Driving with a suspended license is more serious, but a first-time offense will not result in jail time unless there are other factors. Combining this charge with a DWI charge is more consequential for defendants. The penalties for driving without a license or with a suspended license will still seem light when compared to a DWI conviction. However, this minor charge can hurt your defense against your DWI charge because it makes you seem irresponsible.

Driving Without a License

Being charged with driving without a driver’s license is less severe than being charged with driving with a suspended license. Driving without a license may occur if you:

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