Texas DWI laws are vigorously enforced and the local police departments as well as the prosecutors are tough on people who drink and drive. The allowed legal limit of alcohol content in Texas is less than 0.08%. Anyone having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more may be charged with DWI.
When it comes to dealing with a DWI charge in Harris County, Texas, a lot of issues have to be looked at. Some common questions concerning Texas DWI laws have been answered below:
What is the difference between DUI and DWI in Texas?
According to Texas, DWI or Driving While Intoxicated not only refers to intoxication by alcohol, but it also includes intoxication through other drugs and controlled substances or their combination. On the other hand, DUI or Driving Under the Influence is a term which is used for offenses that involve minors. This means that anyone under the age of twenty-one operating a vehicle in public place under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled substance or drug may be charged with DUI.
What should you do if you have been stopped by the police as a drunk driving suspect?
First of all, if you have been driving after having a couple of drinks and the police stops you to ask questions regarding drinking, do not panic. The officer will initially ask you to provide your drivers license and valid insurance when stopped, and you should know where to find them when you are driving. The officer will then try to engage you in a conversation to see if you are okay to drive. If you have had a drink or two before driving, and the officer smells alcohol on your breath, he will most likely ask you if you have been drinking and how many drinks have you had. Informing the officer that you have had one or two drinks is alright. While answering questions, make sure you stay focused, courteous and respectful at all times.
As an American citizen, you have the right to drink responsibly, and if the conversation goes smoothly, you do not have anything to worry about. However, it is important that you listen to the questions asked by the police officer and answer them accordingly.
What signs of intoxication will the police officer look for?
When someone is stopped on the roadside for signs of intoxication, the police officers try to look for symptoms of impairment. These symptoms include signs like flushed face, bloodshot or red, watery eyes, slurred speech, fumbling around when trying to look for the license, failure to comprehend and answer the officer’s questions properly etc. If the officer identifies any of these symptoms, he will ask you to step out of the vehicle to see other signs of intoxication such as being unsteady on your feet, swaying while standing and leaning against the car for support. Please keep in mind that not all of these signs are recognized signs of intoxication and may be clues of other things like being tired from a long day or allergies.
Should you contact a lawyer when you are stopped for a DWI investigation?
If you are a Harris, County Texas resident, you should know that Texas law does not provide the right to an attorney initially to persons stopped for DWI. In fact, the right to speak to an attorney is not entitled to any person stopped and investigated for DWI until the initial investigation on the street is complete and you are taken to jail. Nevertheless, nothing stops someone from calling a lawyer while being stopped by a police officer.
What should you do if you are asked to submit to FSTs or a blood, breath or urine test?
As a DWI suspect, you have to know that the police will want to make their case against you stronger, and they will ask you to submit to Field Sobriety Tests, breath or blood tests. Taking the Field Sobriety Tests is not a good idea as they are designed in such a way that even people that have not been drinking can end up failing them. You can respectfully decline if the officer asks you to submit Field Sobriety Tests.
You also do not need to submit to any road side breath tests as the machines used at the roadside are unreliable, inaccurate, and inadmissible in a court of law to prove intoxication.
I realize that this post is too late for someone that has been arrested for DWI in Harris, County, Texas, but it may be useful for those that have questions after their arrest. If you would like to talk to an attorney that is experienced with the court system please contact me at (713) 242-1779. Most of my clients have never been arrested for DWI.