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Recent Third Court of Appeals Opinion on Reasonable Suspicion in a DWI Case

The majority of Driving While Intoxicated cases involve a stop for a traffic offense but sometimes law enforcement can get creative. No matter the alleged reason, an officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. If an illegal stop leads to a DWI arrest, in most cases, whatever evidence collected cannot be used against you. In a recent opinion The Third Court of Appeals did not buy the officer’s reasons for the stop. See State v. Calzada-Rodriguez, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 1614.

In State v. Calzada-Rodriguez the officer tried to justify the stop by claiming the driver of a vehicle was leaving a neighborhood in an area where an assault had just been reported. Id at 1-8. The state urged the Court to consider the fact that no other vehicles had been seen leaving the area. Id at 8. The Third Court rejected the state’s argument and found “the totality of the circumstances, do not give rise to reasonable suspicion.” Id. The Court explained:

were we to conclude otherwise, officers might assume, as an unintended consequence of our holding, that there is always reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle located near the scene oft an alleged crime.

Id at 9.

The next justification used by the state is that the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop for DWI because the officer “knew a house party was being held nearby; Calzada-Rodriguez was parked near the house party; it is a common-sense inference that alcohol is involved at house parties; and [the officer] perceived that Calzada-Rodriguez was driving inattentively and dangerously.” Id at 9-10. The Third Court rejected this argument as well and instead found:

Calzada-Rodriguez was not driving aggressively near a bar district but was instead driving safely in a neighborhood, [the officer’s] traffic stop was based merely on inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or hunch and not on some minimal level of objective justification.

Id at 10-12 citing Foster v. State, 326 S.W.3d 609, 613 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted).[1]

[1] The state had relied on Foster v. State where the driver was leaving a bar district in Austin at 1:30 a.m. and was aggressively driving.

Do you have questions about a dwi arrest? Call 830.445.4394 or contact our board certified criminal defense attorney today.

Additional recommended reading: “DWI Warrantless Blood Draws and Exigent Circumstances

DWI Attorney in Canyon Lake, TX

driving while intoxicated, dui, dwi, dwi traffic stop, reasonable suspicion, Third Court of Appeals