Hearing police sirens and seeing their flashing red and blue car can be a triggering, scary, and/or frustrating experience. If you realize the siren and lights are coming after you, that can be even more frightening.
If the police stop you, they should have a valid reason (i.e. a belief that you are committing a crime). A valid reason to pull a driver can include speeding, having an expired tag, having a broken taillight, or committing a traffic violation. If a driver simply reaches into the glove box and accidentally swerves in and out of their lane or seems to be driving recklessly, they may be pulled over on suspicion of driving while under the influence. In this article, we will discuss what to do once you are stopped for a DWI in Texas.
The Do’s & Don’ts of a DWI Stop
Here are a few tips concerning what you should and shouldn’t do if you are pulled over on suspicion of a DWI.
- Don’t flee the scene. When you notice the lights and siren, pull over as soon as possible. Fleeing the scene or engaging in a police chase is never a good idea, and you can face more serious consequences if you fail to pull over. To show that you intend to comply, slow down, put on your blinker, and pull over to a shoulder or parking lot as soon as possible.
- Do be courteous. While you may be frustrated or upset, be mindful of your tone and avoid arguing with the police officer(s). Even if you feel like you were pulled over without cause or are being targeted because of your race, age, gender, or ethnicity, you should be cooperative and polite.
- Don’t share more information than needed. If you have been pulled over, it is best to speak as little as possible even if you are innocent. When asked any questions, you can politely say that you prefer not to answer the question. If you do answer any questions, remember that you do not have to go into detail.
- Do remain calm. As we’ve mentioned, getting pulled over can be scary, especially if you have had a previous run-in with law enforcement or have anxieties surrounding the police. While you may have some nerves, try to remain calm. If you feel overwhelmed, try taking some calming breaths or doing something to ease your nerves.
- Don’t consent to a search. While officers can ask you to get out of your vehicle, they do not have the right to search the vehicle unless they have a warrant or cause. An officer can also pat you down if they believe you are armed or believe you are acting suspiciously. However, there are still limits to how thorough the search can be. If you or your vehicle are searched, be sure to take note so that you can inform your attorney.
- Do comply with standard requests. If the officer asks for your name, driver’s license, insurance information, and registration, you must comply. However, you do not have to answer questions or incriminate yourself. As we mentioned, you may also be asked to step out of your vehicle, and officers are well within their rights to ask this of you.
- Don’t consent to a field sobriety test. In Texas, you are not required to submit to a field sobriety test, and it is in your best interest to avoid submitting to this test. Even if you have not had anything to drink or a lot to drink, you may fail the sobriety test because of your footwear, weather conditions, poor balance, nerves, and a host of other factors. There are also flaws in most of the standard field sobriety tests (i.e. eye test, walk-the-line test, one-leg stand test, etc.). It is also important to note that you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer or blood test; however, refusing BAC testing can have legal consequences.
- Do contact a qualified attorney. If you are arrested after being pulled over, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. As they have a firm grasp of your legal rights and the laws governing your case, they can help you navigate the legal process and develop a case strategy. Once retained, they can work to help you get the charges dismissed or negotiate a plea deal. An experienced attorney can also investigate the circumstances of your arrest; if evidence can be found that the arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to make the stop or arrest, that can help strengthen your case.
If you are arrested for and/or charged with a DWI or related offense, contact J. Roland Jeter, P.C. today. Known for his extensive legal experience and dedication to clients, our attorney can advise you of your legal options and help you build a solid defense. Learn more about our services by scheduling a case consultation online or via phone (972) 330-4050.