Unfortunately, Texas leads the nation in DWI deaths with well over 1,000 victims every year. In response to this problem, about 100,000 DWI arrests are made each year, about 70 percent of which ultimately result in conviction (with even more resulting in conviction for a lesser offense such as reckless driving). A disproportionate number of Houston DWI arrests are made during holiday periods, including Halloween, partly because of binge drinking and partly because of more aggressive policing during holiday periods.
DWI checkpoints, where the police stop every driver along a particular road or intersection to check for intoxication, are legal in Texas on a limited basis, and they are common in Houston during holiday periods such as Halloween. Typically, as long as there is no evidence of intoxication, the officer will question you for 10-15 seconds while you remain inside the car, and he will glance inside your car looking for anything suspicious (an open container of alcohol, for example).
Evidence of intoxication is required for any activity more intrusive than this. With probable cause to believe you are guilty of DWI, however, the officer can arrest you and impound your car.
Implied Consent and “No Refusal” Weekends
If you are tagged as a DWI suspect at t a DWI checkpoint, or pulled over with probable cause elsewhere in Houston, the officer will probably ask you to submit to a blood, breath or urine test designed to test the presence of intoxicants in your body. Although you have the right to refuse to submit to testing, two important caveats apply:
- If you refuse the test, your driver’s license can be suspended under Texas implied consent law, even if you are never convicted of DWI, as long as the officer had probable cause to believe you were intoxicated at the time you were stopped. The suspension period for a first offense is up to 180 days, and you can still be convicted of DWI even without the results of the test.
- “No refusal” weekends are common in Houston during holiday periods such as Halloween. Since an officer can force you to submit to testing as long as he obtains a search warrant first, “no refusal” weekends allow an officer to obtain a search warrant by phone and test you on the spot. In that case, your license can still be suspended for refusing the test, and the test results can be used against you to support a DWI charge.
Common DWI Defenses
Dozens of possible defenses to a DWI charge are available under Texas law, depending on the circumstances. Some of the most common are:
- Lack of probable cause to stop you in the first place (this doesn’t apply at a DWI checkpoint)
- Administering a breathalyzer test too soon after you took your last drink (which tends to exaggerate your BAC level)
- Malfunctioning breathalyzer equipment
- Since alcohol takes time to make it from your mouth to your bloodstream, in borderline BAC cases you could argue that you were more intoxicated at the time you took the breathalyzer test than you were at the time you were pulled over.
Take Action Today
DWI conviction rates are high in Houston. The minority of defendants who escape conviction often owe their acquittal to the efforts of a skilled Houston DWI defense attorney. Mario Madrid has been practicing Texas criminal law for two decades, and he is a proud member of the National College of DUI Defense Attorneys. Call Madrid Law, PLLC at 713-877-9400 for a free initial consultation on your case.