Driving after a fun night out is convenient, but if you’re pulled over, what you do and say can be the difference between freedom and jail time. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) can have harsh penalties and law enforcement has been trained to get you to accidentally incriminate yourself to reduce the amount of effort they have to put into making an arrest. If you’re in a situation where you have been pulled over by the police and they suspect that you’re intoxicated, it’s important to understand your rights and the best course of action. Here are some tips on how to handle DWI accusations in Texas:
- Don’t Talk to the Police
Your right to remain silent is one of the most overlooked or forgotten rights in your toolkit. It is crucial to understand because law enforcement will use just about any means of getting you to say something incriminating. The police may lie, or intimidate you to try to get you to say something, but you don’t have to say anything at all, and nor should you. Stay as polite as possible, but you don’t have to answer any questions.
- Hand Over Your License and Insurance
In Texas, all you have to do is hand over your license and proof of insurance when pulled over. You do not have to answer any questions or give any other information. The police are likely to ask you questions like where you’ve been or where you’re going, but you don’t have to answer. If they persist, you can always respond with something along the lines of: “I am asserting my right to remain silent” or asking, “Am I free to leave?” Don’t talk about where you’ve been or what you’ve been doing because it has the potential to hurt your case, even if you have done nothing wrong. Remember, it is legal to have some drinks and drive in Texas. If not, bars and restaurants would not have parking lots. Let the police do their job and stay quiet.
4. Don’t Agree to a “Standardized Field Sobriety Tests”
Also sometimes called: “Roadside Agility Tests,” it’s important to know that you do not have to agree to a test like this. Not only is it not proven to detect any level of alcohol in your system, it’s discriminatory, and also gives law enforcement the opportunity to have “probable cause.” The tests are designed to make you look intoxicated, so avoid them at all costs.
- Don’t Consent to BAC Tests Without a Warrant
The police may ask you to consent to a blood, breath, or urine test to determine your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Law enforcement cannot force you to do this without probable cause and will require a warrant in order to perform one of these tests. This may make them irritable, so don’t be surprised if they continue to put pressure on you to use a breathalyzer or consent to blood testing.
Consequences of DWI in Texas
The consequences of a DWI conviction depend on the number of previous convictions and sometimes even the people you’re driving with. For example, the first offense can result in fines up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. You may also lose your license for up to a year. There is also a mandatory traffic fine which could add at least another $3000 but could be much more depending on the facts of your case. A conviction of any kind can cause job loss, affect your social life, and your reputation, but losing your driving privileges is both emotionally and financially draining. The fines continue to add up for each subsequent conviction, which is why you should get the right legal team on your side as soon as possible
Simply being suspected of a DWI should not have the power to upend your life, but it often can. Remember to carry your license and insurance at all times while driving, and if confronted with being formally charged, call our office as soon as possible at (806) 372-5711. Our experienced and dedicated team is prepared to help you navigate the next steps.
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