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The rights drivers need to know during a DWI traffic stop

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Criminal Defense

When a police officer pulls someone over in Texas, that driver probably feels nervous. Many people make predictable and preventable mistakes during traffic stops that reduce their chances of fighting charges.

Anyone interacting with law enforcement professionals has rights regardless of the situation. Someone pulled over for committing a suspected driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense in Texas is at risk of arrest and a host of different penalties.

What rights do drivers need to know about to protect themselves when interacting with law enforcement?

The right against self-incrimination

There are many ways that the right against implicating oneself affects an individual. They can plead the Fifth during a criminal trial to avoid answering questions if the answers might make them look guilty. They can invoke their right to silence during police questioning after getting arrested.

They can also elect not to answer certain questions during interactions with police officers. Drivers generally do not need to provide details about their personal behavior during an interaction with police officers. They can refuse to answer and inquire as to whether the officer has a justification for the traffic stop. In some cases, an officer may have to terminate the interaction if they do not have reason to detain a driver.

The right to decline testing

The right against self-incrimination continues even if a police officer asks someone to step out of their vehicle. A police officer in Texas cannot force someone to perform field sobriety tests. However, they may try to pressure a driver into doing so anyway. Some police officers also try to pressure people into performing chemical tests before they are under arrest.

While the law does technically require compliance from those who are subject to arrest, not all drivers have to submit to breath testing during traffic stops. Barring the probable cause necessary to arrest someone, an officer typically cannot force chemical testing on a motorist.

The right to ask for legal assistance

As soon as the police officer starts implying that someone did something illegal, that driver may need to invoke their rights. Technically, anyone dealing with the police has the right to have a lawyer present during those interactions.

People who are anxious about declining test requests or other aspects of a Texas traffic stop could ask to have a lawyer present throughout the interaction. Having the advocacy and advice of an attorney could help someone use their rights and avoid mistakes that could strengthen the case against them if they end up facing charges.

Although it can be very difficult to remember one’s rights during a DWI traffic stop, those rights can make all the difference for a driver. Remembering and using one’s rights can protect people against unfair prosecution.

Ramos & Del Cueto, can provide experienced and dedicated assistance if you find yourself in need of help. Call 210-761-6004 or use the form below to contact our firm immediately.