Being pulled over and arrested for DWI can be a terrifying experience in Texas, especially if you have never been in trouble with the law before. Knowing you are facing a DWI charge can leave you feeling scared, overwhelmed and confused about what to do next.
Texas takes DWI charges seriously. There are high penalties for even a first offense DWI, including up to 180 days in jail with three of the days being mandatory, a fine up to $2,000 and loss of your driver’s license for up to one year.
Additionally, spending time in jail or losing your driving privileges could cause you to lose your job. A criminal conviction on your record usually makes it harder to obtain employment or educational opportunities in the future. Your reputation might suffer with friends and family viewing you as someone with a drinking problem.
This is why what you say and how you act after a DWI arrest is extremely important. Your behavior could make a difference in potential defenses available to you or the outcome of your case.
The right to remain silent
Always exercise your right to remain silent. Police officers are required to read you Miranda rights when arresting you and this is one of those rights. Do not say anything to the police officers unless you are asking them for an attorney.
Some people believe they can talk their way out of a DWI arrest by explaining themselves or trying to make friends with the police officers. The truth is that anything you say is something that becomes part of a record that can later be used against you.
Police officers may count on this, knowing that someone who has had a few drinks is likely to be more talkative or anxious, causing nervous rambling. It might be difficult but stay quiet.
You might believe one of your other rights was violated during the traffic stop or arrest, but do not bring it up at that time. You will ultimately still be arrested and must explain your statements later. You can discuss a violation of your rights when you are preparing your defense.
Say no to field sobriety tests
Many people mistakenly believe that they must submit to any requested tests during a DWI stop.
You are under no legal obligation to perform field sobriety tests. These are tests involving things like walking a straight line or reciting the alphabet backwards. If the police officers ask you to perform them, you can simply say no and continue to stay silent. However, you may face a license suspension.
You can refuse to submit to other types of tests, such as chemical breath tests, but you might face additional charges if you do.
Document everything that happened
An arrest is usually a chaotic situation where a lot of different things are happening all at once. After your arrest, write down everything you can remember about the situation, as you may be unable to remember the details later. Include information on anything you and the police officers said or did and any tests you took.
Do not speak with anyone about what happened during the arrest except your attorney. Show them the notes you took about the arrest. Your notes can provide them with the information they need to give you the most accurate advice.