January 01, 2020 - If you find yourself being pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of DWI, it can be an extremely stressful experience. Not only is the stop itself stressful and potentially even frightening, facing the impact a DWI conviction could have on your future can truly cause all sorts of anxiety. It is important that you know what to do and how you should act in the event you are ever pulled over on suspicion of DWI in the state of Texas. Consider the following:
- If you see flashing blue lights behind you, and you have had at least some alcohol to drink, pull over as soon as you can do so safely, then remain calm to the extent possible.
- No matter how unfair you believe the stop is and even if the officer acts in a manner that annoys or angers you, remain cooperative. The police report (which is a very important component for the prosecution at your trial if you are charged with a DWI), can become a key piece of evidence against you. If you remain cooperative and polite, the police report will reflect this; if you are argumentative, the police report will reflect this as well.
- In the same way, keep in mind that EVERYTHING YOU DO IS LIKELY BEING RECORDED ON VIDEO. Whether it is from the officer's dashboard camera, or a body camera, you can almost count on the fact that whatever happens will be available to view by law enforcement and others in the future.
- Remember this—beyond providing your name and address, you are not required to provide additional information or answer the police officer’s questions. Any answers you provide will absolutely be used against you, with your statements even potentially being taken out of context to prove your guilt. There is never a benefit to answering questions. If the police officer asks if you have been drinking, politely answer that you prefer not to answer questions until you have spoken to an attorney. You may have to repeat this sentence multiple times—the goal of the police officer is for you to admit guilt, thus making his or her job (and the prosecutor’s job) considerably easier.
- If you are asked to engage in field sobriety tests, you are not required to do so. You are legally allowed to politely refuse these tests. Field sobriety tests are not considered to be particularly accurate; in many studies, police officers have erroneously judged totally sober people who took field sobriety tests to be inebriated.
- You can also refuse a breathalyzer, but unlike refusing field sobriety tests, there are consequences to this refusal. The officer may decide to obtain a warrant for a forcible blood draw, and your refusal may be used against you in court as evidence of your guilt. Further, a breathalyzer refusal will result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license, and even if you are not convicted of DWI, the suspension will stand.
- Pay close attention to everything the police officer does and says from the time you are stopped to the time you are charged with DWI. In some instances, there may have been no probable cause for the stop. The officer may have told you that field sobriety tests were mandatory, or that you were required by law to take a breathalyzer test—without fully explaining the consequences of a refusal. Any mistake made by the arresting officer can potentially be used by your Texas DWI attorney to fight the charges against you.
- Telling the police officer you want an attorney should never end there. As soon as you are able, take steps to actually find an experienced Houston DWI attorney. The sooner your attorney is on board, the better outcome you can expect. Your Texas DWI attorney can prevent you from making mistakes that can devastate your case, can answer your questions, and can ensure your rights and your future are properly protected.
If you have been charged with a Texas DWI, you are facing extremely serious consequences. Never leave this up to chance; contact an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney to defend your DWI in Texas charges.