In my jurisdiction I have a Game Warden arresting defendants for the offense of DWI. Does he have authority to do so? I believe he should, as long as the Game Warden is within his county. In addition, our Game Warden is a certified peace officer with training in Walk & Turn, One Leg Stand, HGN, etc.
I am wrong in assuming the Game Warden has authority
to arrest alleged defendants for DWI?
for DWI not only in his county, but in any county in Texas. They have statewide jurisdiction like DPS troopers and TABC officers.
Of course, game wardens don't make many traffic stops, but occasionally they do and will come across an intoxicated driver.
The game wardens in my area arrest several BWIs each year, which is essentially the same offense as DWI--save for a few minor differences in the ALR process.
If the question is whether a game warden has the authority to arrest anyone violating the law, including DWI in the State of Texas, the answer is yes.
Is the question, under what circumstances may a game warden stop a vehicle in the State of Texas?
Strange you should ask. I just finished reading the following under Law Quiz:
"Yes, under CCP art. 2.12(11) the following are peace officers: law enforcement officers commissioned by the Parks and Wildlife Commission.
Further, � 11.019 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code states:
(a) The director may commission as peace officers any of the employees provided for in the general appropriations act.
(b) Law enforcement officers commissioned by the director have the same powers, privileges, and immunities as peace officers coextensive with the boundaries of this state.
(c) Law enforcement officers commissioned by the director have the same authority as a sheriff to arrest, serve criminal or civil process, and require aid in serving criminal or civil process coextensive with the boundaries of this state.
(d) A law enforcement officer commissioned by the director may arrest without a warrant any person in this state found in the act of violating any law."
In addition to the above, a GW may have an easier time stopping people due to his authority to search without a warrant. I know I've been stopped several times over the years when leaving a deer or bird hunting area by GWs who just wanted to check and see if my game was properly tagged, etc. Aren't they kinda like the Border Patrol who can search without the usual Terry grounds?
I have been amazed by the number of these folks I have trained this year. But it makes sense. The number one drinking then driving spot is and will remain bars. But lakes and camp grounds are a favorite as well. Friday I head to Llano for DWI training for LCRA and game wardens. Learn somnething new every day.
It's amazing your game warden has any training whatsoever regarding FST's! Consider yourself lucky. I was sure I was going to read a horror story on how your local Parks & Wildlife guy is arresting everyone with his own madeup tests!
Whoa! Hang on just a second! While we're on the topic of game wardens, would someone please explain to me the origin of this notion that game wardens can make a traffic stop for no reason to check for illegal game or improperly tagged deer in a vehicle? Are they not subject to the same PC traffic violation requirements as the regular police? And don't they have to have probable cause or consent before they start poking around in coolers and tool boxes?
I've also engaged in lengthy debates with local redneck/outlaw hunter/banjo pickers over here in the Pineywoods who will argue, swear, cuss and spit if you tell them a game warden has to have a search warrant just like any other peace officer in order to come in your house and look into your freezer for illegally possessed game.
I've been out of town a few days, or would have got to this sooner. Trooper, johnwestbrook and Beck Gibson have correctly described the arrest authority of state game wardens.
For reasons unknown to me, Texans have developed many myths about game warden S&S powers. I typically don't try to dispel the myths, but in this forum I think it important to do so.
In reality, game wardens have the same power of arrest as any other peace officer, and operate under most (but not all) of the search and seizure powers and restrictions of any other peace officer. One of you has related a situation that sounds like a warden started believing the myth and overstepped his authority. Nuff said on that.
When it comes to stopping a vehicle on a public roadway and searching the vehicle, game wardens must play by the same rules as any other peace officer. Ditto for searching a residence.
Do game wardens have search powers above and beyond that of other peace officers? Yes they do, in some circumstances. P&W Code Section 12.102 (enacted in 2003) codified some of the myths. The biggie here is that it allows game wardens to inspect the contents of any container or receptacle that is commonly used to store or conceal wildlife. Obviously, an "inspection" under authority of this statute can be a "search" within the meaning of the state and federal constitutions. To exercise this search/inspection authority, the warden need only believe the person is or has been engaged in a regulated activity (usually hunting, fishing, or trapping). The warden need not have RS or PC to believe the person is violating the law before conducting an inspection. The statute specifically excludes residences and temporary residences from its reach, as well as vehicles on public roadways.
There are a few other statutes that authorize game wardens to search specific persons and businesses engaged in commercial activity (taxidermist shops and fish dealers, for example).
As for boats, P&W Code Sec. 31.124 authorizes an enforcement officer to make random stops and inspections of boats for compliance with the water safety laws. This was deemed constitutional by the CCA in the Schenekl case (30 s.w.3d 412). TPWD spends quite a bit of time and effort on FST training for game wardens, as some random boat inspections turn into BWI arrests. By the way, I believe much of the reasoning accepted by the court in Schenekl might also be persuasive in a challenge to 12.102 search.
Any time a question or motion is raised concerning game warden activities, feel free to call me at 512-389-4584 if you want to discuss or want some research assistance. That's what I'm here for.
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