Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is one of the most common criminal charges. An individual may be accused of being intoxicated after drinking alcohol or using drugs. According to Texas law, an individual is intoxicated if their blood or breath alcohol concentration is equal to or greater than 0.08, or if the individual has lost the normal use of his or her mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of alcohol or drugs, whether possessed legally or illegally.
Since these offenses specifically refer to "operating a motor vehicle," the law actually applies to all motor vehicles, whether a car, a boat, a tractor, or even a golf cart. During your free consultation, we can further explain how the law applies to your particular case.
The Traffic Stop
DWI charges usually begin when someone is stopped by a police officer for an ordinary traffic violation such as speeding or failing to use a turn signal. Upon contact with the driver, an officer may believe he or she detects signs of intoxication. These often include observations that the driver has bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, an odor of alcoholic beverages on the person's breath or the smell of drugs coming from the motor vehicle.
When an officer makes such observations about the driver, this initial contact frequently leads to a request that the driver perform field sobriety tests, a series of physical actions directed by the officer and allegedly designed to reveal whether someone has lost the normal use of their mental and physical abilities. In Texas, an individual is not required to agree to perform these field sobriety tests.
An officer also may request that a driver blow into a portable breath test machine. The driver is not required to blow into the portable machine; in fact, the results of a portable breath test are often found to be unreliable and inadmissible in court. We can explain your rights under Texas law in additional detail when you call for your free consultation.
The Arrest for DWI
The officer's goal in making the observations and requesting the performance of field sobriety tests, and possibly the roadside breath sample, is to determine whether probable cause exists to arrest that driver for DWI. If an officer believes he has developed probable cause that the driver is operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the officer will likely place that driver under arrest and take the driver to jail.
At the jail, the driver will likely be asked to perform additional field sobriety tests as well as to provide a breath or blood sample to determine the driver's breath/blood alcohol content. Contact us for more information on Texas law as it relates to what may or may not be required of you during a traffic stop.