In a recent opinion from a Texas court, the defendant successfully argued that his motion to suppress should have been granted. Originally, the defendant was pulled over in a traffic stop, and the officer pulling him over arrested him for driving under the influence. When the defendant filed a motion to suppress the incriminating evidence proving he was intoxicated, the court at first denied this motion. Later, though, a higher court agreed with the defendant, finding that the evidence should have been suppressed in the first place.
The Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, an officer was patrolling the roads one evening when he stopped the defendant’s vehicle for failing to maintain a single line of traffic. In the officer’s testimony, he stated that the only reason he stopped the defendant’s car was for this one reason – there were no other factors that went into his decision to pull the defendant over.
During the traffic stop, the officer saw that the defendant appeared to be intoxicated. He arrested the defendant for driving while intoxicated, and the defendant soon after filed a motion to suppress the evidence of his intoxication. The defendant argued that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull him over in the first place, and since the officer should not have initiated the traffic stop, the subsequent evidence of intoxication was unfairly included in the State’s case. The court denied this motion to suppress, and later the defendant pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated.
The Court’s Decision
On appeal, the defendant argued that the court should not have originally denied his motion to suppress. According to the law in Texas, an officer must have “reasonable suspicion” that a driver is breaking the law if the officer is going to conduct a traffic stop. The defendant argued that the officer in this scenario did not have enough reason to pull him over, and thus that his motion to suppress should have been granted.
The court looked at Texas law, which says that if an officer is going to pull over a driver for failing to maintain a single line of traffic, two things must be true: the driver must fail to drive entirely in one lane and the driver must move between lanes in a way that is considered to be dangerous. The defendant conceded that he did fail to drive entirely in one lane. He argued, however, that he did not switch lanes unsafely – in fact, there was plenty of room on the road to move from one lane to another at the time of the traffic stop.
The court agreed with the defendant, concluding that there was no evidence to show that his lane shift had been dangerous. Because the State could not prove that the defendant’s lane change was anything but safe, the State also could not prove that the officer had sufficient reason to pull over the defendant in the first place. Without reasonable suspicion to pull over the defendant, the evidence of intoxication was also invalid. Thus, the court agreed with the defendant’s argument and granted his appeal.
Are You Facing Criminal Charges After a Traffic Stop in Texas?
If an officer has stopped you on the road in Texas, and you are now facing criminal charges as a result, know that you are not alone. At Guest and Gray, our experience defending individuals throughout Texas makes us uniquely qualified to offer you the support and representation you need. Our criminal defense attorneys handle all types of crimes, including Dallas DWI offenses, and are standing by to offer you a free and confidential consultation. Call us today at 972-654-4644. You can also reach out to us through our website, using our online form. We represent clients throughout Rockwall, Dallas, and Collin Counties.