What Rights Do You Have During a DWI Traffic Stop?
A DWI charge in Texas is a serious offense that carries serious penalties. However, if you are pulled over for suspected DWI in Texas, you have rights and you should be familiar with them.
DWI Lawyer in Houston. Call (281) 853-8537 for a free consultation.
DWI in Texas
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is defined in Texas Penal Code section 49.04, which provides that a person commits an offense if he/she operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated.
“Intoxicated” in Texas means not having the normal use of one’s mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having a alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.
This means that in Texas, you can be arrested and charged with DWI if your alcohol concentration is 0.08 or higher – even if you do not feel intoxicated. Similarly, you can be arrested and charged with DWI if the officer believes you do not have the normal use of your mental faculties due to the introduction of alcohol or some other substance.
But that’s not all. As stated above, if an officer believes you do not have the normal use of your mental of physical faculties by reason of the introduction of a controlled substance or another drug or substance, you can be arrested and charged with DWI. Even if you were taking medication prescribed by a doctor!
Texas police officers are obligated to investigate potential crimes. But an individual subjected to a DWI Traffic Stop has rights, too.
You Have the Right to Refuse Sobriety Tests
An individual suspected of DWI has the right to refuse to perform sobriety tests – whether asked to perform these tests on the side of the road or back at the police station. The police cannot force you to walk-the-line or perform any other field sobriety tests against your will.
Similarly, an individual has the right to refuse a breath or blood test. You cannot be forced to do so unless the police first obtain a valid search warrant. However, an individual who refuses to submit to a breath or blood test will suffer an administrative suspension of his/her driver’s license, and the fact that the person refused to give a breath or blood test will likely be used against him or her in court. (As a side note, you only have 15 days from the date of your DWI arrest to save your license by requesting a hearing on this suspension).
You Have the Right to Remain Silent
During a traffic stop, the law says that an individual must identify himself, present proof of financial responsibility and license to operate a motor vehicle. But outside of those types of basic questions, an individual is under no obligation to answer questions from the police officer. This means that you do not have to answer questions about where you are going, where you have been, or how much you have had to drink. Officers will probably ask you when you last ate, how intoxicated you feel, among other things as they investigate you for DWI. But you have a constitutional right to remain silent.
You Have a Right to Refuse Police Searches
Sometimes during a DWI traffic stop, officers will ask a suspect for permission to search his/her vehicle. Maybe the officer has reason to believe there are drugs in the vehicle, maybe not. Even if they are just fishing, they can ask you for permission to search. And you have the right to refuse to consent to a search of your vehicle. No matter what leads up to a DWI investigation, a suspect retains the right not to consent to any searches.
Contact a Texas DWI Defense Attorney
If you are pulled over and investigated for the offense of DWI, it is your right under the law to decline any sobriety tests, to remain silent, and to refuse any request to search you or your vehicle. These are designed to build a criminal case against you. If you have been arrested for DWI, contact our office immediately to discuss your rights (281) 853-8537.