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Racial profiling and probable cause

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Drunk driving presents dangers everywhere vehicles are present. A drunk driver could hit another vehicle on a public road, and accidents may happen in parking lots and driveways. Pedestrians and bicyclists might become victims of drunk drivers in Texas. One way to reduce incidents of drunk driving-related crashes involves performing a traffic stop when a vehicle moves erratically. Unfortunately, the police may use racial profiling when stopping vehicles, violating the driver’s rights.

Racial profiling and traffic stops

Reports in a local newspaper revealed that 80% of the persons charged by state troopers in Austin are people of color. The revelations about the data have led to claims of racial profiling. The traffic stops might involve more than field sobriety tests as the officers may search the suspects’ cars during the stop.

If the police have probable cause to search a vehicle, any evidence procured that points to a crime might lead to additional charges. For example, uncovering illegal drugs or firearms might result in felony charges. The stop might result in discovering that the driver has an outstanding warrant, leading to an arrest.

Drunk driving and probable cause

When a driver commits moving violations, such as veering out of a lane or does not come to a complete stop at a stop sign, the police might have probable cause to perform a traffic stop. They may reasonably assume the driver is guilty of drunk driving. During the stop, the police could notice evidence of another crime and perform a search. If the police stop a vehicle without probable cause, the search could be illegal.

Drunk driving charges might not stand if the police lacked probable cause. Suspects and defendants have constitutional rights. Violations of those rights could make procured evidence inadmissible.