If you dare brave the Houston public roads on Halloween night, ghouls and goblins will be the least of your worries. Instead, three potential dangers await you – traffic congestion, dangerous roads and DWI checkpoints. The better prepared you are for these realities, the easier your Halloween night is likely to be.
Traffic Congestion and Dangerous Roads
Roads are likely to be particularly dangerous on Halloween, because so many people engage in binge drinking during the holidays. Even on quiet suburban streets, watch out for trick-or-treaters darting out in front of you. Traffic congestion is almost inevitable due to high traffic volume. Another reason for traffic congestion is that DWI checkpoints may be set up at certain intersections. DWI checkpoints are particularly likely at major intersections right after the bars close.
Although DWI checkpoints are common in Houston during major holidays, a DWI checkpoint might be in place for only a couple of hours at a particular intersection. Beware — making an illegal U-turn to avoid a DWI checkpoint could give an officer the legal justification necessary to detain and question you, even if you successfully avoid the checkpoint and even if you only made the U-turn to avoid traffic congestion. You can be certain that checkpoint officers will be on the lookout for exactly this sort of behavior.
Know Your Rights at a DWI Checkpoint
It is important to know your rights at a DWI checkpoint so that you can adequately protect yourself:
- The police cannot search your car without “probable cause”. This means they cannot search your car arbitrarily – they must have a good reason. If they smell marijuana smoke coming out of your car window, for example, that might be enough to justify searching your car for marijuana. Once they have probable cause to search your car for marijuana, however, if they find an illegal weapon instead, then they can use it as evidence against you even if they don’t find any marijuana.
- You don’t have to answer any of the officer’s questions. If you don’t want to answer questions, tell the officer you will not answer any questions outside the presence of your lawyer.
- You don’t have to admit breaking the law, so don’t do it. Although you have a Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination, this right doesn’t protect you if you voluntarily incriminate yourself by confessing to a crime.
- The officer cannot force you to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test without a search warrant, although you may lose your driver’s license under the Texas implied consent law simply for refusing the test. On “no refusal” weekends (common during major holidays), the officer might be able to obtain a search warrant over the phone.
Although the DWI conviction rate is about 70 percent in Texas, if you are charged with DWI in Houston your conviction is not inevitable. A skilled, aggressive Houston DWI defense lawyer might win an acquittal in a variety of different ways. If you have been arrested for DWI in or near Houston, call Madrid Law, PLLC at 713-877-9400 for a free initial consultation on your case.