It's not widely known, but if you get stopped for allegedly driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas you have more rights than you might think.
It's important to take advantage of those rights to avoid a misstatement or stumble that could cost you your license to drive, fines, and possibly jail time.
For years, Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer has successfully defended people against DWI charges. Attorney Webb has gained a wealth of experience and knowledge with Texas' DWI process and prosecutions. She has developed valuable insights and expert advice to share with drivers about what happens if they're accused of driving while intoxicated, what their rights are, and how to best get through the ordeal.
To avoid the pitfalls of a driving-while-intoxicated motor vehicle stop, get to know your rights before you see the police lights flashing in your rearview mirror. Here are a few tips on how to handle a DWI.
The initial stop
Always pull to the side of the road when an emergency vehicle or police cruiser is approaching with their lights activated. Once you've stopped your vehicle, a police officer who suspects you of driving while intoxicated will begin the investigation by going over why you were stopped.
To avoid escalation of the situation, stay calm and keep your hands where the police officer can see them.
The police officer will ask for your license and vehicle registration - have this paperwork readily accessible to you.
Unlike other criminal investigations, you most likely will not hear the officer read you your Miranda rights at the stop. These rights still apply, however. You have the right to remain silent and the right to consult an attorney prior to answering questions. You do not, however, have a right to consult with an attorney before refusing to take a sobriety test.
Refusing to take sobriety tests
In Texas, you have the right to decline sobriety tests, though this option comes with a risk.
If an officer smells alcohol on your breath, observes red, bloodshot eyes, slumping, and/or slurring of your speech, the officer will most likely ask you to take a field sobriety or breath test. If you refuse to take either test, you can be arrested under Texas' implied consent law. You can be arrested even if you're completely sober. Declining to take the tests could also lead to your license being suspended for 180 days.
A blood alcohol test may be mandatory, however, if you appear to be extremely intoxicated.
Failing sobriety tests
In Texas, you are legally intoxicated when your blood alcohol concentration reaches at least 0.08%.
If you fail a sobriety test, it's almost certain you will be arrested for DWI and transported to jail. During the transportation and after, you may be audio and video recorded. This evidence could later be used against you in court. You have the right to consult an attorney before answering a law enforcement officer's questions.
DWI penalties in Texas can be harsh.
If you are found guilty of a first offense DWI you could be fined up to $2,000, go to jail for up to 180 days, and lose your license for up to one year.
For a third offense, the fine increases to $10,000, you can lose your license for up to two years, and you can go to prison - instead of jail - for up to 10 years.
If you are charged with DWI and a child was in the vehicle at the time of the incident, you can also be charged with child endangerment.
Make sure you know your legal rights and options
DWI cases are not as black and white as they may first appear. While you may think you're out of options, an experienced attorney may be able to help you beat the charges or get them reduced.
Attorney Amanda Webb knows how to break down a prosecutor's seemingly air-tight case. Was the initial stop even legal? Were your rights upheld during the booking process? Do the police officer's statements in court match what actually happened? Meanwhile, evidence casting doubt on the accuracy of sobriety tests is becoming more accepted by the courts.
Attorney Webb knows what evidence is needed to get a DWI charge thrown out. If you or someone you love is facing a DWI charge, contact us today for a free case consultation. Based in Conroe, TX, we serve clients in the Houston area, The Woodlands area, as well as Montgomery and Waller counties.