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Failure to make a legal stop leads to DWI questions

It was a Saturday morning about 6:30. A friend of mine was driving down a major street in Fort Worth. He looked up and saw the bright red and blue lights flashing behind him. When the officer walked-up to the window of the car, the officer said, “Do you know why I stopped you?”

“No,” my friend responded.

“I saw you fail to make a legal stop, twice.”

Mike had unknowingly failed to make a legal stop at two intersections. His car came to a full stop. He did not put anyone at risk. But he failed to stop his vehicle behind the “white stop line.” You know the white stop line, right? It is that thick white line at some intersections. You can find them accompanied by a stop light or a stop sign. You can even find them at railroad crossings and pedestrian crossings.

The officer then asked Mike some questions that surprised him. “Have you been drinking?”

“No, sir.”

“Where are you coming from at this hour?”

Thankfully, Mike had not been drinking. He did not smell of alcohol. He was not slurring his words. He did not have glassy eyes.

The officer then let Mike off with a warning to be more careful. Mike asked me, “Could he have given me a ticket?” Yes, the officer could have written a ticket for failure to make a legal stop. But the officer was not looking to give a ticket for a minor traffic violation, the officer was using the reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation had occurred as an excuse to stop a car at 6:30 in the morning to do a little investigation into a suspected DWI or DUI.

Remember reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch, but enough that a reasonable person would suspect from specific and articulable facts that a person has been or is engaged in criminal activity.

A minor traffic violation can quickly turn into something more serious like a DWI or DUI. Be careful out there. I don’t want to be the guy crossing the street when someone fails to make a legal stop.

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