What To Do When Pulled Over For DWI
One topic that I’ve done small presentations on has to deal with DWI’s in Texas. What do I do if I’m pulled over for DWI? DWI’s are one area of law that can affect the richest of the rich and people living from paycheck to paycheck. At the end of the day, few sights can make your heart sink faster than the one above. First, just to make this absolutely clear, I advise all my clients to NEVER drink and drive. A drunk driving charge can be very costly. It’s expensive to defend and even more costly on your family, employment, and the potential for injuring other people. Call a cab, a friend, relative or find a sober driver. What to do when pulled over for DWI? Keep these tips in mind.
Five Tips to Remember During a DWI Stop
1. You have the right to remain silent. I covered this in a previous blog post. This point is especially true when stopped for DWI. You don’t have to talk to police or answer their questions. BE POLITE. Crack the window down slightly, keep your hands in view at all times, and don’t make any quick movements. You must Identify yourself (usually with your Texas Driver’s License) and give the officer proof of insurance if asked. You don’t have to answer any other questions from the officer. At some point, ask the officer whether you’re free to go. Usually the less you talk, the better. Just because you may have been stopped for a traffic violation, doesn’t mean the officer can immediately start their investigation for DWI. They must have reasonable suspicion to believe you are driving under the influence.
2. Follow the officer’s instructions, including rolling down your window, but only if he/she orders you to do so.
At this point, you should follow all of the police officer’s instructions. Do not roll the window down all the way unless ordered to do so. Ask the officer whether or not they are ordering you to roll the window down. Whatever the orders may be, DO NOT CONSENT TO THE SEARCH OF THE VEHICLE. If you consent to everything the officer asks then it is nearly impossible to challenge the legality of the stop later. Don’t give the officer more facts to support their suspicion of DWI than you need to. Keep the window up and don’t give the officer an easier chance to smell alcohol on your breath.
3. Do not get out of your vehicle unless ordered by the officer.
Similar to the point above, you want to make sure the officer is actually ordering you out of your vehicle. This can’t be a wishy washy answer. Make sure the officer is actually ORDERING you out of your car. As always, be polite and don’t argue with the officer. If there is alcohol on your breath and you are face to face with the officer, they will smell it. If they smell the alcohol on your breath your best bet is to avoid talking as much as possible. I’ve never seen or heard of anyone explaining their way out of a DWI. Don’t think you’ll be the first. This is especially true when if you’re slurring your speech, staggering, or swaying in front of the officer.
4. Never do the field sobriety tests. Never give a blood sample. Never give a breath sample. DO NOT BLOW.
If the police officer has begun her investigation for DWI, the point will come when she will ask you to perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). Lastly, these tests may include the officer asking you to blow into a breathalyzer and/or give a blood sample for testing. Officers need a warrant to draw your blood. Make them get one! One issue that comes up often during holidays is the Texas’ famous “No Refusal Weekends”. If you do the Field Sobriety Tests then you’re almost certainly giving the police more ammunition to use against you later on at trial. By refusing do to the tests, you are facing a 180 day driver’s license suspension. However, a conviction for a DWI is much, much worse. At this point, if you haven’t already. Again refuse all tests and questioning. The officer will more or less have their mind made up.
5. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible. You may be facing a Driver’s License Suspension as well as a DWI charge.
When you’re arrested for DWI, there are really two things going on at the same time. The first is a Driver’s License Suspension, and the second is a criminal charge of DWI. For the license suspension, you must request an Administrative License Revocation Hearing within 15 days. This hearing can have an impact on your criminal case. Don’t miss the opportunity to start the fight early at the ALR stage. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner you can start fighting your DWI charge.