If you’re pulled over by a Houston police officer on suspicion of DWI, the officer will make a number of demands of you. Some of these demands you should comply with, and some of them you shouldn’t. Any evidence that the officer obtains in violation of the state or federal constitution cannot be used against you in court. A Houston criminal lawyer should be able to answer any questions you might have about your legal rights during a DWI stop.
What You Must Do and What You Should Do
If you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror, be aware that you need to cooperate with the officer in the following manner:
- Pull over. Even if the stop turns out to be illegal, you can be punished for fleeing. If you comply and the stop turns out to be illegal, however, nothing that happens during the stop can be used as evidence against you.
- Turn off your dome light.
- Turn off the engine and roll your window down.
- Provide the officer with your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration when he requests it
Step outside your vehicle when requested by the officer.
“You Have the Right to Remain Silent…”
Indeed you do – and you should exercise this right. You have the right to refuse to answer any question the officer asks you that could be used to incriminate you, including “Have you been drinking tonight?” Invoke this right by telling the officer that you will not answer any questions without your lawyer present.
Dealing with Demands for Sobriety Testing
The officer will probably demand that you submit to at least two forms of sobriety testing. The consequences of refusal depend on the type of test:
- Field sobriety testing: Field sobriety testing includes activities such as walking in a straight line or reciting the alphabet while skipping certain letters. You are not required to submit to this type of testing, and there is no legal penalty in Texas for refusing to do so.
- Breathalyzer testing: Under most circumstances, the officer cannot force you to take a breathalyzer test without a search warrant. If you refuse, however, the officer will probably arrest you for DWI immediately, and your operator’s license will be suspended for at least six months even if you are acquitted of DWI.
- Blood testing: As with the breathalyzer test, your driver’s license can be suspended for refusing to submit to a blood test, but under most circumstances the officer cannot force you to take a blood test without first obtaining a search warrant The most obvious exception to the search warrant requirement applies if the officer finds you unconscious after a traffic accident.
- Urine testing: Since under Texas law you are not required to take a urine test, refusing to submit will not result in suspension for your driver’s license. The officer can force you to submit to one with a search warrant, however.
Houston criminal lawyer Mario Madrid’s two decades of practice experience includes stints as both a prosecutor and a judge. He is certified as a specialist in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, he his has been inducted into the National College of DUI Defense Attorneys. If you have been arrested for DWI in Houston call Madrid Law, PLLC at 713-877-9400 for a free initial consultation.