During routine traffic stops, police officers frequently check for the presence of alcohol on a driver's breath. This odor is a key factor in many Texas DWI arrests. Understanding its significance is vital for anyone charged with DWI. Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer, sheds light on the significance of alcohol odor in DWI cases. We'll discuss what happens when an officer smells alcohol on your breath, the grounds for a DWI arrest, and essential tips to protect your rights during a traffic stop.
The significance of alcohol odor in DWI cases
The presence of alcohol on a driver's breath serves as a factor for establishing probable cause. This is the legal standard for an officer to further probe a suspected drunk driver. While the smell of alcohol on a driver's breath is a relevant factor, it's rarely the sole basis for a DWI arrest. Law enforcement officers rely on a combination of evidence and observations to build a DWI case.
If an officer detects alcohol on your breath, they may also conduct various tests and consider additional indicators of impairment. This includes slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and lack of balance.
Factors that lead to being charged with DWI
To make a DWI arrest, a police officer must have a reasonable belief that you're driving under the influence of alcohol. Several common factors can contribute to an officer's decision to make an arrest. These include:
- Observable signs of impairment: These may include bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, impaired memory or thought, or poor balance and coordination.
- Performance on field sobriety tests: An officer may ask you to perform a standardized field sobriety test. This includes the walk-and-turn test, the horizontal-gaze-nystagmus test, and the one-leg-stand test.
- Admission of alcohol use: While having only one drink isn't necessarily illegal, admission of alcohol use often leads to arrests.
- Breathalyzer BAC test results: If an officer believes you're driving drunk, they may request a breathalyzer or blood test. This is done to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). You can be arrested for DWI if your BAC is 0.08 percent or higher.
- Open containers: The presence of open alcohol containers in the vehicle can potentially lead to a DWI arrest.
Protecting Your Rights When Stopped for Drunk Driving
If you find yourself stopped for drunk driving in Texas, know your rights and understand how to protect them. Here are some key actions to take:
- Be calm and cooperate with police: Maintain politeness and composure during the traffic stop, avoiding confrontations that could escalate the situation.
- Provide basic information as requested: Present your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance upon request. Failure to do so may result in additional charges.
- Exercise your right to remain silent: You have the right to remain silent. You don't have to tell a police officer where you've been, where you're going, or how much you've had to drink. Politely inform the officer that you wish to remain silent.
- Consider refusing field sobriety tests: In Texas, you have the right to decline field sobriety tests. These tests are voluntary, and refusal doesn't result in a penalty.
- Document the traffic stop and arrest: If you can, take notes about the traffic stop and arrest. Include details on the officer's actions, behavior, and testing protocols. These details may later help you build a strong defense.
- Take or refuse the preliminary breath test (PBT): In Texas, you generally have the right to refuse a breath test. Texas has an implied consent law. If you refuse to take a breath test, your driver's license may be automatically suspended for a period of time, even if you are not ultimately convicted of DWI.
Get an experienced Texas DWI lawyer if you've been charged
When charged with DWI in Texas, it's important to get a clear understanding of your rights. Our dedicated legal team would be glad to learn more about your arrest and review your potential legal options.
Attorney Webb and her legal team can thoroughly investigate your situation and ensure that the officer followed the correct protocols. To find out how we can help you, contact us for a free and confidential legal consultation.