Impaired driving is a common issue in the United States. Due to the number of fatalities caused by alcohol each year, the penalties for this offense can be long-lasting and ruin your future in multiple ways. The legal system has harsh penalties for people who drink before getting behind the wheel, which is why you should avoid doing so or accepting the penalties.
When you’re suspected of a DWI, it’s easy to make a mistake, especially if this is your first time interacting with officers who are looking for answers. You might be unsure of your rights.
Knowing what to expect during a DWI stop in Texas can help you prepare for the worst-case scenario while avoiding additional penalties. Let the lawyers at Hoeller McLaughlin PLLC explain what you can expect and provide a strong defense after the fact.
Proving Your Identity
The first step of a traffic stop for impaired driving is proof of identification. Officers are going to ask for your basic information, which can be provided with your driver’s license, and documentation related to your insurance.
It’s important to comply at this point. Acting evasively or trying to avoid the police officers may be seen as suspicious or even dangerous, so simply provide the legal identifying information they need.
But that doesn’t mean you have to provide details. Law enforcement usually looks for additional information through your statements, so they’ll start asking questions. Don’t forget that what you say can be used against you, and saying that you’ve only had a couple of drinks could be seen as an admission of guilt.
While being polite and complying can help you avoid further legal troubles, it doesn’t mean that you have to answer all questions and provide more than your basic information. If you do so, defending yourself later can be tough. If the police continue asking questions, ask to speak with your lawyer before you speak further.
If the police suspect you’re breaking the law, they may look for ways to obtain additional evidence to use against you during the trial. You’re not required by law to consent to a vehicle search, and it’s recommended to avoid doing so. Remember to always be polite while declining this request, aggressiveness is not your friend when interacting with law enforcement.
If the police try to convince you they’re allowed to proceed with a search, you can still politely decline. The Fourth Amendment prohibits them from proceeding with unreasonable searches and seizures. The exception to this rule is when an officer spots an object that was clearly in plain sight, which means they’re authorized to collect it as evidence.
Field Sobriety Tests
When you’re pulled over on suspicions of driving while intoxicated, officers can tell you to exit your vehicle so you can participate in field sobriety tests.
These tests may involve walking in a straight line or following other complex commands. If you fail these tests, or if the police officers smell alcohol, you may then proceed to further sobriety tests.
Breathalyzer and Blood Test
Being legally intoxicated in Texas means having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, which is why officers ask for a breathalyzer or a blood test. Both these tools allow them to obtain a fixed value that can be used as proof that you’re guilty of a DWI.
Even if you think you’re over the legal limit, it’s typically best to accept this test and defend your case later. If you refuse to take this sobriety test, your license is automatically suspended even if you weren’t driving while intoxicated. That means, even if your defense is a success, your license may be suspended for a time anyway.
Fortunately, a defense attorney can help you fight back. Even if you were over the legal limit according to the test, you may still have grounds to act now and avoid a conviction.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Fight Back
DWI charges should never be underestimated. They can be harmful to your freedom and your future, especially if you’re not aware of the best way to proceed legally after a traffic stop. Speaking with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible can stop you from committing actions that could result in fines and jail time.
You can contact Hoeller McLaughlin PLLC to obtain the protection you need to put all of this behind you as a bad memory, as you should never expect police officers to inform you of your rights and help you avoid a conviction. You can get started immediately by calling 817-334-7900 or filling out our quick contact form.