Traffic Stop for Suspicion That Driver Is In Need of Assistance Cases

In Hulit v. State, 982 S.W.2d 431 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998), police were dispatched to a highway intersection in response to a call reporting that a person in a vehicle was possibly having a heart attack. See id. at 432. The officers found a pickup truck stopped in the left-turn lane with its engine running and the defendant slumped unconscious at the steering wheel. See id. The court held that the officers were authorized under the Texas Constitution to awaken the driver and ask him to step out of the vehicle so they could see if he was in need of assistance. See id. at 438. The officers in Hulit were not acting solely on the basis of anonymous information, but had personally observed a set of circumstances that warranted the actions they took. In Sweeney v. State, 6 S.W.3d 670 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1999, pet. ref'd), a police officer stopped an automobile being driven by the defendant at over forty miles-per-hour, in the rain, at night, with a flat tire. the court concluded that the officer had reasonable grounds to stop the defendant for his own safety and that of others on the road. See id. at 671. No reliance on anonymous information was involved in Sweeney. In Wright v. State, 7 S.W.3d 148, 151-52 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999), the court held that the Fourth Amendment permits a police officer to stop and detain a person for further investigation if the officer reasonably suspects that the person may be ill and in need of assistance.