It’s that time of year where people are enjoying time with friends and co-workers at holiday parties, as well as with loved ones at family events. You have a couple drinks and on your way home when something happens to momentarily distract you from driving. All of a sudden you see the flashing lights in your mirrors as the noise from the siren makes your stomach feel like it just fell through the floor board. There is no getting around the fact that the officer is going to smell alcohol, but how does it go from just an odor to ending up in hand cuffs because the officer thinks you are intoxicated? Are you looking for a misdemeanor lawyer in Houston, Texas?
Ways that officers use to claim a driver is intoxicated:
Appearance of the Driver
Officers are trained to observe multiple signs of intoxication from the appearance of the person they interview. They will pay particular attention to the following signs of intoxication:
*Difficulty finding insurance paperwork or driver’s license
*Not being able to listen or concentrate
*Confusion about travel route, destination or beginning location
*Odor of alcohol
*Trouble staying conscious/nodding off
*Urinating or vomiting
A police officer is trained to make observations during traffic stops or while at the scene of the accident and to record important facts in a report. Officers have the opportunity to review these reports and make changes or add information through supplemental reports. The officers will typically interview driver(s) and anyone else involved. If the officer notices that one of the drivers has been drinking, they will interview that person further and ask them to perform field sobriety tests. The results should be recorded in the officer’s report in order to justify and support any charges after an arrest. If there was an accident with a possible intoxicated driver involved and someone was injured or killed there should be an officer trained in accident reconstruction called out to take measurements and pictures of the scene.
Prosecutors rely on the reports to make decisions about what potential charges to accept. Judges rely on the reports to decide whether probable cause exists that a crime may have been committed. The officers rely on the reports in trial to refresh their memory about the case.
In Texas, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration is 0.08. Police officers can obtain these results with a breath test machine called the Intoxilyzer or by testing your blood with a gas chromatograph. You can read more about these tests at the following:
A jury may need additional evidence to believe that the government has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver was intoxicated other than an officer’s testimony, video recording of the driver, and/or test results. For instance, if the driver left a bar or similar establishment, the police can speak to patrons and the owner, as well as obtain receipts, credit card bills, and security camera recordings. Law enforcement can also search the vehicle after an arrest and could potentially find open containers of alcohol, prescription pill bottles, or illegal drugs.
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