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Challenging Police Traffic Stops

In Texas and elsewhere, many criminal cases, including DUI, DWI cases and drug possession cases, begin with an investigation into an unrelated traffic violation. For example, a motorist may be driving down a Houston street and be observed by an officer to make some sort of a traffic infraction like swerving in his lane.  The officer will then make a traffic stop and decide to investigate some other offense. Maybe the officer notices the driver smells like alcohol and is having trouble following basic commands. Or maybe the officer will smell marijuana or see some other controlled substance in plain view.

The problem however, is that sometimes, police officers will exaggerate an alleged traffic violation, or fabricate one completely, in order to investigate a hunch that a motorist is committing some other offense. In these cases, it is important for a criminal defense attorney to make a thorough investigation into the police officer’s reasons for making a traffic stop. If a criminal defense lawyer can prove in court that the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop, that could lead to the suppression of any evidence discovered as a result of the stop.

In Texas and elsewhere, criminal defense attorneys will want to investigate the circumstances of the traffic stop and the applicable law. To investigate the facts, criminal defense lawyers will want to review the offense report produced by the officer, any video relating to the stop, and also visit the scene of the traffic stop in person. Once the facts are thoroughly understood by the criminal defense attorney, he should research the law regarding the specific traffic violation alleged by the police. For example, under Texas law, a motorist swerving in a Houston street (as in the example above) may not give an officer a sufficient justification to make a traffic stop if the motorist was not somehow presenting a danger to himself or others.