Being charged with a DWI in Texas is a serious matter. Not only will you face the immediate legal consequences of jail time, hefty fines and loss of driving privileges if convicted, you could have a difficult time finding employment for years after.
Should you find yourself stopped by police or facing DWI charges, it's critical that you know your rights. The attorneys at Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer answer the most crucial questions regarding traffic stops, roadside tests and DWI arrests.
Are sobriety checkpoints legal in Texas?
Sobriety checkpoints are conducted in most states, but not in Texas. That's because Texas's interpretation of the U.S. constitution in a 1991 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling stated it violated drivers' Fourth Amendment rights. This interpretation of the law was a specific ban on sobriety checkpoints.
Just because checkpoints aren't legal in Texas doesn't mean police won't use other methods to catch suspected drunk drivers. If you are driving late at night or during a holiday weekend — when police are most likely to crack down on drunk drivers — an officer may follow you or pull you over for the smallest infraction.
What should I expect during a traffic stop?
If you're pulled over by police, it's important that you remain as calm as possible and do what is required of you. You are required to give the officer your driver's license and vehicle registration. You are also required to give the officer your name and essential information, and get out of your car if you're asked to do so.
Here's what you're not required to do at a traffic stop:
- Answer any other questions an officer asks you. This might include questions like:
- How much have you had to drink tonight?
- Where are you coming from?
- What are you up to?
- Where are you going?
- Agree to a vehicle search without a warrant. If an officer doesn't have a warrant to search your car, you are under no obligation to agree to a search. If an officer searches your car without your consent, any evidence produced against you will be inadmissible in court.
Am I required to take a field sobriety test?
Police often administer field sobriety tests to determine if a person suspected of drunk driving is intoxicated. There are generally three field sobriety tests:
- The walk and turn test — walking toe-to-heel, turning and repeating.
- One leg stand test — standing on one leg and counting until asked to stop.
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test — following a small object side-to-side with your eyes.
In Texas, you are not required to take this test. There are no legal consequences for refusing a field sobriety test.
Do I have to take a breath test?
Technically, you can refuse to take a breath test, but you will face legal consequences in Texas. Under Texas's implied consent law, you could lose your driver's license for 180 days if it's your first time refusing a breath test.
Penalties can become more serious for second or subsequent refusals. In many cases, the results from a breath test are inaccurate. If you're facing DWI charges based on the breath test results, an experienced Texas attorney can dispute the results in court.
What happens if I'm charged with more than one DWI?
A first-time offense results in six months in jail, a $2,000 fine, license suspension from 90 days to one year, and a license reinstatement fee of $3,000. If you're charged with a second or subsequent DWI in Texas, you could face harsh legal consequences.
For a second DWI conviction, you could face:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $4,000
- Possible driver's license suspension between 180 days and two years
For a third DWI conviction, you could face:
- A felony charge
- 2-10 years of incarceration
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Driver's license suspension for up to two years
What is the best way to fight my Texas DWI charge?
The best way to fight a DWI charge is to practice your right to remain silent and consult with an experienced Texas DWI defense attorney as soon as possible. Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer can investigate the details surrounding your arrest and the evidence brought against you. Our lawyers will present the facts and devise a legal strategy to help you fight the charges in court.
To find out how we can help you, fill out our online contact form and schedule your free case evaluation.