The police pull you over on your way home along I-10, and the officer suspects you’ve been drinking. Guilty or not, you don’t have to cooperate fully, and doing so may not be in your best interest.
When a police officer stops you and suspects you’re driving while intoxicated (DWI), it’s up to them to determine your impairment and find probable cause or seek a warrant to investigate. Voluntary searches and sobriety tests can come back to bite you later in court.
Breaking a traffic law may not be enough to support probable cause in a traffic stop. While speeding, driving too slowly or failing to stop at a red light could contribute to a claim of DWI, they’ll likely need further evidence. Volunteering too much information or offering consent could mean you’re handing it to them.
Anything the police find in your car can count against you, but they can only search your vehicle if they meet certain conditions. While you could make it easy for them by consenting, without that they will have to go a different route:
- The officer arrests you
- A search could avert danger
- They’ve established probable cause
Testing your rights
You don’t have to submit to a sobriety test voluntarily. Texas was an implied consent law until 2014, which meant you consented to testing simply by driving a car. Now you must agree to a test, or the officer may arrest you and then administer the test. Allowing a test before an arrest could be willfully providing potentially incriminating evidence against yourself.
The right path
When police don’t follow the rules, it could violate your constitutional rights and bar evidence from being heard in court. Without evidence, it could be tough for the prosecution to get a guilty verdict.
Make sure you know your rights when it comes to traffic stops. Abiding by the law while protecting your constitutional rights can go a long way to mounting a solid defense if you are looking at criminal charges.