As an attorney, I often get questions from friends, family, and colleagues about what to do in certain sticky situations. If you've ever been out drinking and are worried about the possibility of a DWI, this post is for you.
If you are pulled over by a police officer in the state of Texas, please keep these 5 things in mind:
1. You have the right to remain silent. Use it.
Other than providing your name and identification, you have no legal obligation to speak to a police office who pulls you over. This is especially true if you have been drinking because the risk of you opening your mouth and slurring your words, or allowing the aroma of alcohol to pepper your conversation is very high. Mum's the word when you are pulled over. Say nothing but the essential to a police officer if you're under the influence and behind the wheel.
2. Do not blow, but beware of the consequences
Submitting to a breathalyzer or a field sobriety test is a bad idea. The information gathered WILL be used against you if you are charged with a DWI (which you probably will be if you're ever asked to do either of these things). Refusal to blow or perform a field sobriety test will result in your license being revoked; however, if there is no evidence to be used to prove that you were indeed intoxicated, it is less likely you will be convicted of a DWI. Keep in mind, you will be arrested, but your charges may be dismissed if you do not give police additional evidence of your impairment, so don't blow. As for your license suspension, you can apply for an occupational license which has restrictions but still allows you to drive. A suspended license is a less serious problem than a DWI that comes along with possible jail time, surcharges, and a criminal record.
3. Ask for a Lawyer Immediately
The officer may try to engage you, ask questions, and otherwise interrogate you during your stop, on the ride to the police station, and at the precinct. Don't take the bait. Even if they say they can help you, ask for your attorney. Reread #1. You have the right to remain silent. The less you say without counsel present, the better.
4. Be aware of your behavior
Be polite. Speak clearly (if at all), and try not to lean against the car, or otherwise do anything that makes you look impaired (slurred speech, poor coordination, etc.). Be on your best behavior during your traffic stop, and keep an attorney's card on your person, or better yet, memorize a lawyer's phone number for the inevitable call.
5. You're Innocent until Proven Guilty
A good lawyer will help you fight for your rights in a DWI case, but it is essential that you do your best to minimize any evidence of guilt there may be if you are pulled over by a police officer after a rough night.