The 4th of July is just around the corner. People all over the state of Texas are preparing to celebrate the independence of America with a day of congregating with friends and family, boating and barbecuing.
A fun holiday celebration can take a turn for the worse when police become too aggressive in their efforts to crack down on drunk driving. Not only is the 4th of July a popular holiday, this year's celebration will fall on a Saturday. For this reason, law enforcement officers across Texas are expecting to make hundreds of DWI arrests.
Will I encounter a sobriety checkpoint this 4th of July?
Unlike many other states, sobriety checkpoints are illegal under Texas's interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. In 1991, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that sobriety checkpoints violate drivers' Fourth Amendment rights.
That doesn't mean that police won't use other tactics to crack down on suspected drunk drivers. If you're driving at night on the 4th of July, be aware the police may hide in plain sight and be poised to pull over anyone who speeds or violates a traffic rule.
Police may even become aggressive enough to follow drivers and wait for them to make the slightest traffic infraction.
What are my rights if I get pulled over?
If you are pulled over by police, you must always comply with their orders. You can put the officer at ease by putting your car in park and shutting it off, rolling down your window and placing your hands on the steering wheel.
When the officer asks for your driver's license and registration, you must provide it. If the officer asks you any other questions, however, you have the right to remain silent. In fact, remaining silent can save you a lot of legal trouble in court if you're arrested and charged with a DWI.
If an officer suspects that you were driving drunk, and administers a roadside breath test, you could be placed under arrest, even if your BAC level is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
What should I do if I'm arrested and charged with a DWI?
Should your 4th of July celebration end in a DWI arrest, it's critical that you consult with an experience DWI defense attorney who can help you fight the charges.
When it comes to DWIs, Texas doesn't mess around. A first-time DWI offender can face up to three months in jail, a $2,000 fine, a 90-day license suspension, probation and a license reinstatement fee of $3,000.