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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In the early morning hours of Oct. 29, 2003, San Antonio Police Detective Paul Biasiolli heard a report over his police radio that a blue Volkswagen with a ski rack was traveling erratically and at a high rate of speed and heading in his direction. Shortly thereafter, Biasiolli saw a blue Volkswagen with a ski rack traveling northbound at 60 miles per hour. The vehicle maintained its speed as it passed him and continued through an intersection controlled by flashing yellow lights without slowing down. Biasiolli observed the vehicle crash into a telephone pole when it attempted to make a left-hand turn at 60 miles per hour. Biasiolli and his partner Detective Troy Marek immediately responded to the accident, which Biasiolli described as “fairly violent” in nature. The accident caused the vehicle’s air bags to deploy. According to Biasiolli, Cullen was unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech and had bloodshot, glassy eyes. Biasiolli detained Cullen and his passenger until San Antonio Police Officer Charles Marcus arrived. When Marcus arrived, he observed that Cullen had a slight sway and did not have his balance. Marcus had to hold out his hand to help Cullen maintain his balance. According to Marcus, Cullen had slightly glassy, bloodshot eyes. Marcus also smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Cullen’s breath. Cullen and his passenger indicated to Marcus that they had consumed alcohol. Marcus administered several field sobriety tests to Cullen, including the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, walk and turn test and one-leg stand test. Marcus reported that Cullen either failed each test or did not complete the test. Following the tests, Marcus placed Cullen under arrest for driving while intoxicated. Authorities then transported Cullen to the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD). Marcus and Cullen arrived at the SAPD approximately 20 minutes after Cullen’s arrest, at which time Marcus began videotaping Cullen. Once Marcus began videotaping Cullen, however, Cullen complained that he suffered a head injury during the accident. The videotaping session was subsequently terminated when Cullen invoked his right to remain silent. Cullen filed several motions to suppress, including: a motion to suppress evidence; a motion to suppress written and oral statements; and a motion to suppress videotape and audiotape evidence. Cullen argued that there was no probable cause to arrest him for DWI, because he sustained a head injury during the accident. Thus, Cullen contended that Marcus’ conclusions about his intoxication were not credible based on this fact. In response, the state argued in part that Marcus had no reason to believe Cullen suffered a head injury during the accident, because Cullen neither complained of a head injury nor showed any signs of a head injury. The state further argued that the issue of whether there was a head injury that may have affected the results of the field sobriety tests is a fact issue for the jury to consider. Following the arguments, the trial court granted Cullen’s motions to suppress. The trial court’s failure to enter findings of fact and conclusions of law led to a separate appeal by the state to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which eventually resulted in the 4th Court of Appeals ordering the trial court to enter findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court entered 14 findings of fact and one conclusion of law. Pertinent to this appeal is Finding No. 14, in which the court found that Cullen suffered a head injury in the crash that undermined the credibility of the field sobriety tests and resulted in Cullen’s shaky appearance at the accident scene. The trial court concluded that the only credible evidence that Cullen committed DWI was that he was speeding and had the smell of alcohol on his breath. Therefore, the trial court found that police lacked probable cause to arrest Cullen for driving while intoxicated. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. When an accused challenges a warrantless arrest based on constitutional grounds, the proper inquiry is the reasonableness of the seizure under the totality of the circumstances. In order to satisfy the reasonableness requirement, a warrantless arrest must be supported by probable cause. Probable cause exists where an officer possesses a reasonable belief, based on facts and circumstances either within the officer’s personal knowledge or about which the officer has reasonably trustworthy information, that an offense has been or is being committed. The court noted that the trial court’s findings of fact and conclusion of law indicated that the trial court did not agree with Marcus’ assessment that the known facts and circumstances would cause a reasonable officer to believe Cullen operated his vehicle while intoxicated. The trial court expressed in its findings that the only credible evidence concerning the charged offense was that officers observed Cullen speeding at the time he collided with the telephone pole and that Cullen had alcohol on his breath. Consequently, the trial court concluded the totality of the circumstances did not constitute probable cause to arrest Cullen for DWI. The trial court’s findings of historical facts indicate that the trial court essentially eliminated Cullen’s bloodshot, glassy eyes, slurred speech, unsteadiness on his feet and poor showing on the field sobriety tests as relevant facts and circumstances in its probable cause analysis due to the head trauma that Cullen purportedly suffered. But the court found that even if it afforded no weight to those facts and circumstances in its probable cause analysis, the trial court’s remaining findings demonstrated Marcus had probable cause to arrest Cullen for DWI. Thus, the court held that the arrest did not violate Cullen’s rights under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or Art. I, �9 of the Texas Constitution. Cullen also complained that his arresting officer had no statutory authority to arrest him without a warrant. But the court found that the incident fell into a statutory exception allowing warrantless arrests. Specifically, the court found that the warrantless arrest was permissible under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 14.01, which provides that “[a] peace officer may arrest an offender without a warrant for any offense committed in his presence or within his view.” Therefore, the court held that the trial court abused its discretion by granting Cullen’s motions to suppress. OPINION:Stone, J.; Stone and Marion, J.J. CONCURRENCE:Hilbig, J. “The trial court erred in failing to properly apply the probable cause standard. In its findings of fact and conclusion of law, it made conclusions not relevant to such determination, characterized conclusions as factual findings and cast some of its conclusions as a credibility choice. Because the majority fails to address these important issues and provide guidance for making appropriate findings and conclusions in future cases, I cannot join in the majority opinion. However, because the majority reached the proper result, I hereby concur.”

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