An arrest for driving while intoxicated in Texas starts with the police officer having reasonable suspicion that the driver has broken the law, either while monitoring passing traffic or when responding to an accident. An officer is legally allowed to stop a driver if the driver has committed a traffic violation or is driving in a manner that suggests impairment. The officer may also conduct a background check on drivers by entering their license plate numbers into a database, which may indicate that the driver has an outstanding warrant or the vehicle is not confirmed to have liability insurance. During the stop, the officer can arrest the driver for DWI if there is probable cause to believe that the driver is intoxicated.
Precedent in Texas
A 2017 Texas appellate court ruling confirmed that a police officer is legally allowed to stop a vehicle that a database flagged for not having insurance, even if the database was inaccurate. In 2015, an officer was entering plate numbers of passing vehicles when one was listed for “unconfirmed insurance,” which could mean that the insurance on the vehicle had lapsed. He stopped the vehicle to check for proof of insurance and eventually arrested the driver on suspicion of DWI.
The defendant was convicted for the DWI charge but appealed the decision, saying that the traffic stop was not legal because his vehicle was insured at the time. Despite the inaccuracy in the database, the appellate court confirmed the conviction:...