Most DWI arrests in Texas begin with an unrelated traffic stop. Assuming the officer has formed a “reasonable suspicion” that the driver has broken some law, any evidence later discovered of drunk driving is potentially admissible in court.
Loud Car Stereo Created “Reasonable Suspicion” for Officers to Initiate Traffic Stop
This includes something as seemingly trivial as “excessive noise.” In a recent Texas appeals court decision, Gore v. State, a defendant in a DWI case challenged the legality of his conviction, which was based on a police officer’s observations of excessive noise coming from the defendant’s vehicle.
According to the evidence introduced at the defendant’s trial, officers were executing a search warrant on a local residence in Kerrville, Texas. Shortly before the officers arrived, a vehicle described as a “silver or grey sportscar” had left the same premises. The officers later saw–and heard–a vehicle matching the description. More precisely, the officers said they could hear music blasting from the car “a block away.”
The officers initiated a traffic stop of the car and its driver, who is the defendant in this case. The basis for the stop, according to the officers, was the excessive noise generated by the music from the car. The officers subsequently discovered evidence the defendant was intoxicated and proceeded to arrest him for DWI.
The defendant pleaded guilty to the DWI, but reserved his right to appeal the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence gathered during the traffic stop. Before the appeals court, the defendant argued the officers lacked reasonable suspicion to suspect he committed a traffic violation. The Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the defendant’s DWI conviction.
The appeals court pointed to the Texas Penal Code, which states “[n]o person or vehicle shall emit excessive or unusual noise on the streets of the city,” as well as the City of Kerrville’s municipal ordinances, which forbid “excessive or unusual noise” from a motor vehicle.
More to the point, the Court of Appeals said the officers initiated the traffic stop based on their observations that the defendant was blaring loud music in his car after 11 p.m. while traveling in a residential area. This was sufficient to create “reasonable suspicion” that the defendant was breaking the law.
Contact a Houston, Galveston or League City DWI Defense Attorney Today
If you are detained by the police in a traffic stop that turns into a DWI arrest, the important thing to remember is that you always have the right to remain silent–i.e., to not talk to the police–and to contact a qualified Houston criminal defense attorney. Even if you believe the circumstances leading to your arrest were unlawful, do not try and argue with the officers at the scene. Your best course of action is always to say nothing and wait to speak with a lawyer.