Inadvertently swerving into another lane, running through a red light, or momentarily driving over the speed limit are mistakes that many drivers make. However, that mistake can quickly become frustrating or even land you in handcuffs if you are stopped for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, whether you’ve been drinking or not.
When are Killeen police allowed to stop someone suspected of DWI?
Under Texas law, police officers can stop and detain anyone they believe might be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, they must have a valid reason to suspect that the driver is intoxicated. For such a stop to be legal, the officer must observe certain behaviors that question a driver’s sobriety. These include:
- Speeding or driving well below the speed limit
- Failure to maintain lane
- Erratic driving
- Ignoring traffic lights or stop signs
- Driving without headlights after dark
If you are stopped for suspected DWI, don’t admit to anything, watch what you say, and always be polite when refusing to provide information. If you have a physical condition that might make you appear impaired, advise the officer immediately.
What are my rights if stopped for suspected DWI?
You should always be aware of your rights during a DWI stop, which include the following:
- The right to freedom from wrongful search and seizure. Under the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, people have a right to be secure from unreasonable government searches and seizures of their property.
- The right to remain silent. In Miranda v. Arizona, the US Supreme Court established the warnings that police officers are required to give suspects, either orally or in writing, before beginning to question them.
- The right to refuse field sobriety testing, breath tests, or blood tests (but be aware that a refusal might not work in your favor). Although you have the right to refuse to perform field sobriety tests in Texas, you can (and likely will) be arrested for DWI if the officer believes they have enough evidence to administer the tests.
- The right to a report of the incident. When someone is pulled over for a traffic stop, and a subsequent DWI investigation and arrest occur, the officer records the details of the event in a report. You have a legal right to request a copy of the report from the appropriate police department.
- The right to retain an attorney. Although you do not have the right to consult an attorney before taking a field sobriety or blood alcohol test, you can still make the request since the law does not prohibit a law enforcement officer from allowing you to call an attorney before submitting to any test. However, if the officer places you under arrest, you have the right to have an experienced Killeen DWI attorney
Texas law does not prevent the police from stopping or detaining a driver if they reasonably suspect the individual is impaired by drugs or alcohol.
What is a DWI checkpoint, and am I required to stop at one?
DWI checkpoints, sometimes referred to as sobriety checkpoints or DWI roadblocks, are locations along the road where police officers randomly stop drivers, e.g., every fourth car, to evaluate drivers for signs of drug or alcohol impairment.
Eleven US states, including Texas, do not permit DWI checkpoints, and those that do have specific requirements that police must follow. According to a 1991 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling, drivers are not required to stop at a DWI checkpoint in the state because they violate an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights. Although some police departments in Texas still conduct DWI checkpoints, charges arising from these checkpoints may not stand up in court.
In some cases, Texas law enforcement conduct “no refusal weekends” that allow officers to quickly obtain search warrants that will enable them to force drivers to submit to blood tests.
What happens if I am arrested for DWI in Killeen or Copperas Cove?
If you are arrested for DWI in Texas, the police officer should first read you an Implied Consent warning and then immediately ask you to provide a sample of your breath, blood, or urine. The order of these events is critical because it could mean an officer violated your rights, which might be used to defend the state’s case against you.
If you hire a Killeen DWI defense attorney after your arrest, they have 15 days from the date of the arrest to file a request for an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing on your behalf. If you do not hire an attorney, you will have to make the request yourself. If you do not request an ALR hearing, a refusal or failure of a breath or blood test will result in an automatic ALR suspension, starting the 41st day after the date of your DWI arrest.
The ALR is an adversarial hearing, meaning the state will be represented by an attorney who will make arguments against you. Meanwhile, your attorney will advocate on your behalf to help you keep your license. To deny you your driving privileges due to the DWI arrest, the burden of proof will be on the state to prove two conditions, which include:
- The police officer had probable cause to stop you, and
- You either refused to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample upon the officer’s request, or your BAC level was tested at 0.08 percent or higher.
An experienced Killeen DWI attorney will understand how the ALR hearing process works, protect your rights, help you retain your driving privileges, and counter the arguments made by the state.
Texas law enforcement is required to follow the law regarding DWI stops and checkpoints. If you were arrested by police following a stop at an illegal DWI checkpoint in Central Texas, Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm will stand up for your rights. We understand the law regarding DWI stops and will provide you with a strong defense. Fill out our contact form or call 254-680-4655 to schedule a personal consultation today. We represent clients in Killeen, Copperas Cove, Temple, and Belmont.
I’ve dedicated my legal career to defending my clients. I demand all the evidence. I investigate all the facts, the so-called witnesses and even the police officers. I make it my business to know the law. Cases can be won or lost before you even set foot inside the courtroom.
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