Bristol Myers


Criminal Law Austin, Texas

Legal Resources

Reasonable Suspicion

If you retain an Austin DWI attorney, one of the lines of defense available to him or her will be to attack the arresting officer’s purported basis for stopping you. In order for a stop to be legal, a police officer must have “reasonable suspicion” that unlawful conduct has occurred. The precise contours of the reasonable suspicion standard are somewhat amorphous, but judicial opinions in the area provide useful rules to apply when scrutinizing a stop.

For example, the United States Supreme Court has held that when a motorist is arrested for being unlicensed or driving without a registration card, the arresting officer must have an “articulable and reasonable suspicion” of the motorist’s illegal activity before initiating a stop.  Specifically, the Court stated:

“. . . we hold that except in those situations in which there is at least articulable and reasonable suspicion that a motorist is unlicensed or that an automobile is not registered, or that either the vehicle or occupant is otherwise subject to seizure for violation of law, stopping an automobile and detaining the driver in order to check his driver’s license and the registration of the automobile are unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” (Delaware v. Prouse, (1979))

At your DWI trial, your Austin DWI attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine the arresting officer regarding how he or she developed reasonable suspicion that you were intoxicated before stopping you. If the officer is unable to articulate a reason or offers a reason that does not justify the stop, your Austin DWI attorney will have successfully poked a damaging hole in the prosecution’s case against you.

Whether reasonable suspicion exists at the time of a traffic stop is an extremely fact-based inquiry. Your Austin DWI attorney will not be able to simply offer a routine argument at your trial; rather, he or she will need to closely examine the circumstances of your stop, including by interviewing percipient witnesses, reviewing the police report, and possibly inspecting the scene of your stop. Once the relevant data is collected, he or she will need to develop unique arguments tailored to the facts of your case.

Overcoming a DWI charge based on the arresting officer’s lack of reasonable suspicion is not an easy task, but if your Austin DWI attorney crafts a compelling argument, he or she will improve your chances of obtaining an acquittal.

For a  free consultation, please contact Austin DWI attorney Bristol Myers, Esq. at (512) 478-2100.

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