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Kyle Lowe, Criminal Defense Attorney

Kyle Lowe Criminal Defense/DWI Attorney

Licensed to practice law since 1993 in New Mexico, and since 1997 in Texas, Kyle Lowe has been trying cases for 16 years. His only focus is Criminal Law. Beginning his career as an Assistant District Attorney in New Mexico, Kyle quickly worked his way up to Deputy District Attorney and became the designated DWI Prosecutor for the office.

 

In his 5 years as a prosecutor Kyle tried more than 60 cases to juries to include the first State prosecuted wiretap conspiracy case in New Mexico history...

 

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Archive for the ‘DWI Behaviors’ Category

The Psychology of a DWI Stop

June 10th, 2009 by Kyle Lowe

The psychology of a DWI stop is an incredibly subjective thing.  One might suggest that there is a predetermined decision in the mind of a police officer, based on the time of day, the locale, the proximity of the vehicle to local bars/nightclubs, or the prevalence of previous DWI arrests in the same area, that a driver pulled over for a traffic infraction in that same area will be assumed drunk before the police officer even approaches the vehicle.

According to an article written by Shorstein and Lasnetski, whether a DWI arrest is made is not based on concrete, objective factors that can later be confirmed in court; rather, the decision to arrest for DWI will often be based on the perceptions, observations, conclusions and biases of the police officer.  Just about every police officer that has made a DWI arrest since the beginning of time will report that the suspect had bloodshot and watery eyes, emitted a strong odor of alcohol, had slurred or mumbled speech and failed the field sobriety tests if the driver submitted to them.  However, those conclusions are all very subjective.  How bloodshot and watery were the driver’s eyes compared to what they normally look like? What if the driver was in a smoky bar or staring at a computer screen all day? How strong is a “strong odor of alcohol”? What is slurred speech compared to how a person normally speaks?  Over the entire  period of the police encounter, how often must the driver slur his/her speech for it to be considered significant? Is the speech slurred due to alcohol or because the person is nervous? How the officer interprets these questions is very subjective.

The word “bias” is not used negatively here but as a natural and normal psychological phenomenon- a cognitive bias, and it is a significant factor. The human brain is wired to see patterns and draw conclusions subconsciously. While we would hope that a police officer would come to a conclusion of driving while intoxicated only after assessing all of the relevant data, humans have a psychological tendency to draw the conclusion and fit the data to conform to that conclusion. The human brain is also wired to avoid conflict.  In other words,  if we believe something to be true,  (i.e. we see something we believe conforms to a pattern we assume exists), we challenge ideas or perceptions that are inconsistent with our belief and automatically accept ideas that are consistent with our belief.  The human brain is much happier when ideas and perceptions are consistent.

During a DWI stop in Austin, Texas, if a police officer believes the driver is under the influence of alcohol, (i.e. that is the idea he/she perceives as being consistent with the pattern he/she accepts), the officer may interpret the subsequent evidence to conform to that belief.  As a result, these subjective factors like bloodshot and watery eyes,  slurred speech, an odor of alcohol and performance on field sobriety tests may be interpreted to be consistent with the “idea” of a drunk driver rather than what the facts actually illustrate.

To simplify, a police officer may have observed people commit traffic violations late on the weekends who turned out to be driving drunk hundreds of times or more. That officer, as humans are prone to do, will start drawing conclusions based on that experience. The next time that officer pulls a driver over in similar circumstances, his/her brain relates back to prior drivers who were drunk. The pattern is established.  We can all relate to the idea that we like to be proven right and we do not like to be proven wrong. It is intellectually uncomfortable to draw a conclusion only to find out it was incorrect. The defense mechanism our brains use to avoid that state of cognitive discomfort forces our brain to see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear and assume what we want to assume to conform to our primary belief– that the driver is driving while intoxicated- even if the facts tell a different story.  It is a psychological phenomenon that cannot be denied.  As a result, the police officer fits this next potentially drunk driver into the pattern that has developed and may interpret the data from the DWI stop to conform to that pattern and his/her conclusions.

So, what should you do if you are pulled over by a police officer who suspects you of  DWI in Austin, Texas? You cannot fight the instinctual operation of the human brain. You can, however, limit the information you provide to the police officer that can be interpreted unfavorably against you.  After you give your name, license, insurance and/or registration, you can politely ask for an Austin DWI attorney in response to any further questions or requests.  Keep in mind that anything you say or do can and will be used against you, and when you are dealing with so many subjective factors that are involved in a typical DWI investigation, the less you say and do, the better.

If you need an experienced DWI lawyer in Austin, Texas or the surrounding communities, contact Kyle Lowe at 512-750-5693.

Top Things Police Officers Watch For When Looking for Drunk Drivers

May 6th, 2009 by Kyle Lowe

According to the DWI Detection training manual published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2004, police officers are taught to look for the following red flags:

● Anything which may draw their attention to a vehicle (especially at night time) such as:

A moving traffic violation;

Weaving across a lane; Abruptly swerving; Turning with too wide a radius; Almost striking an object or other vehicle; Stopping incorrectly; Rapid acceleration or deceleration; Driving on the wrong side of the road; Slow response to traffic signals; Slow or failure to respond to an officer’s signals; Stopping in a lane for no apparent reason; No headlights; Driving in an area other than a marked traffic lane; Throwing objects out of the car or other inappropriate behavior such as leaning out of the window or yelling out of the window;

● An equipment violation (burned out tail light or burned out license plate light);

● An expired registration or inspection sticker;

● Any unusual driving actions such as weaving within a lane or moving at a slower than normal speed;

● After the stop, evidence of drinking or drugs in the vehicle itself.

Following a suspected DWI stop, police officers will look for the following signs of intoxication according to the DWI Detection training manual:

● Slowed reactions;

● Impaired judgment as evidenced by a willingness to take risks;

● Impaired vision;

● Poor coordination;

● Difficulty exiting the vehicle;

● Fumbling with drivers license or insurance;

● Repeating questions for comments;

● Swaying, unsteady or balance problems;

● Leaning on the vehicle for support;

● Slurred speech;

● Slow to respond to officer/officer must repeat;

● Providing incorrect or changing answers to the same question;

● Odor of alcohol

If you have been arrested for a DWI in Austin, Texas or the surrounding counties, time is of the essence.  Contact Kyle Lowe, an Austin DWI Attorney with 16 years of DWI and Criminal Law experience.  Your case evaluation is free, your peace of mind is priceless.