Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Another Questionable DWI Case Affirmed in the 2nd District Court of Appeals

It seems like just yesterday I just wrote a post about the 2nd Court of Appeals affirming a DWI case despite legal or factual flaws.  No, it was today.

In the Tarrant County war against DWI, the Court affirmed Reed v. State, a case in which Appellant pled guilty after the trial court denied her motion to suppress evidence obtained from the traffic stop based on lack of reasonable suspicion for the stop.  In its findings of fact supporting the denial of the motion, the trial court noted:
  • There was no traffic violation under Section545.060(a) [of the] Transportation Code. 
  • There is no evidence that the Defendant’s failure to drive in a single lane was unsafe. 
  • The use of the turn signal was not done in an illegal manner. 
  • Defendant was not weaving within the lane.
  • There was very light traffic on the highway.
  • The driver made no erratic speed changes.
  • Driver stayed within the speed limit.
Sounds like anyone could be stopped for DWI if an officer has reasonable suspicion based on this.  Once again Justice Dauphinot, the lone dissenter, is the voice of logic and reason.  While praising the professionalism of the officer, Justice Dauphinot states:
Officer Miller testified that he pulled Appellant over because he saw her commit a traffic violation. But he was mistaken. What he observed was not a violation of the law. As this court has previously explained, reasonable suspicion of an alleged traffic violation cannot be based on a police officer’s mistaken understanding of traffic laws.The detention cannot be justified by the fruits of the detention. 
This case is a quick read (HERE) if you have the time, and there are many more interesting nuances that I have not included.  A troubling case indeed for the rights of Tarrant County drivers.