Everything you need to know about your rights under Texas law when arrested for drunk driving.
The moment you’re arrested for a DWI (driving while impaired) in Texas is likely embarrassing. You will probably also be anxious and stressed about what’s going to happen next.
It’s critical in those tense moments that you know your rights under Texas law.
Will the police read my Miranda Rights?
Did you know that no matter what the offense is, the police must read the suspect his or her Miranda Rights? This is engrained in law thanks to the Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona in 1966.
The Miranda Rights (or “Miranda Warning”) that must be read out loud to you goes as follows:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
Any law enforcement professional who doesn’t read your rights to you is in violation of their duties and their oath. This oversight could result in the entire case against you being thrown out.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer test?
Simply put, yes. In Texas, you’re allowed to refuse to take a breathalyzer test or any field sobriety test that the officers may want to administer to you. Refusing to take their tests will almost certainly mean that you’re going to spend some time in jail waiting to be bailed out. However, it may also mean avoiding taking a test that could produce results that can be used against you in a court of law.
Why shouldn’t you go ahead and submit to the breathalyzer test if you believe that you are innocent of the charges leveled against you? The reasons why are complex and multi-faceted, but understand that these tests aren’t nearly as accurate as they are made out to be.
Many psychological factors go into what a breathalyzer test will show about an individual’s blood alcohol content. Then, there are the physical factors that make the BAC measurement wildly inaccurate from person to person.
In many cases you are better off refusing the breathalyzer in the first place.
Am I required to answer the police’s questions?
Not without an attorney you’re not! There’s no situation in which you can be compelled to answer questions by any law enforcement figure without first consulting your attorney. In fact, it’s best to allow the attorney to do the talking for you so that your rights are protected.
As the police officers will tell you when reading your Miranda Rights to you, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Why, then, would you bother to speak to the police at all?
An attorney can make your life a lot easier in these situations as they will make sure the situation is presented in the best possible light for you. That could come to matter a great deal as this charge faces trial. If you’re quick to get an experienced and competent attorney, you could avoid court altogether.
Are “no refusal” DWI checkpoints legal?
This is questionable. While the checkpoints in and of themselves may not be illegal, the way in which they are conducted in a particular situation could be. Law enforcement professionals have been known to cut corners with DWI checkpoints on occasion and fail to follow the letter of the law.
Someone who is caught up in the checkpoint might have a valid claim that the checkpoint is illegal per Texas law in the way in which it is set up, and this may help get them away from any consequences that result from their arrest.
This type of argument is best made with the help of an attorney. Attorneys are experts in the law and know what to say (and what NOT to say) about these checkpoints.
Can my record be expunged?
A record that contains a DWI offense is a scary thing to have. Many will look upon that record very unfavorably. You don’t want to risk having that blemish on your record going forward.
Instead, speak with your attorney about the possibility of getting it expunged so that you don’t have to continue to deal with this going forward in life.
Can I hire a defense attorney?
Absolutely! Again, as the Miranda Warning says, you have a right to an attorney. At the Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp, our Houston DWI defense attorney is fully capable of answering further questions and protecting your rights in the event of an arrest.