It is never a good idea to drive while impaired with alcohol. Not only is it dangerous for your safety, you will also endanger the lives of every other driver, cyclist, or pedestrian on the road. If, however, you have been pulled over or arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), you still have rights and liberties. It’s important to know that DUI or sobriety checkpoints in Texas are illegal, and it is important to know your rights if you get pulled over.
What Are Sobriety Checkpoints Texas?
Sobriety checkpoints are blockades set up by law enforcement to interview drivers at random, to search for anyone who may be driving under the influence of alcohol. Police officers may park their vehicles and flash their lights on one or both sides of the road, while standing in the street to flag down vehicles. Officers will inspect for signs of intoxication in drivers, but will only use a breathalyzer if they have sufficient evidence. DUI checkpoints are not set up all the time, but are typically organized when drink driving incidences increase, such as holiday evenings or weekends. It is important to know that not all states allow law enforcement to perform these checks.
The Difference between DUI Checkpoints and No Refusal Checkpoints
Depending on where you are in Texas, there are situations where you may not be able to refuse an inspection when pulled over for a DUI. No refusal checkpoints in Texas allow officers to enforce that you take an alcohol or drug test when pulled over. This process allows police to bring a suspected drunk driver who refuses to take the requested tests to a police station for a blood test. It is important to know what your local laws are and even more important to avoid breaking them.
Are DUI/DWI Checkpoints Legal in Texas?
The reason why DUI or DWI checkpoints are illegal in Texas are to protect the citizen’s Fourth Amendment right, which protects them against unreasonable search and seizures. There is not a specific ban on these checkpoints, but many state courts interpret these practices as violations of the Fourth Amendment. Drivers who are pulled over at these checkpoints are profiled based on their location alone, and since the investigation is not based on any observed behavior or law violation, the grounds aren’t considered solid enough. A sobriety checkpoint would allow the police to stop a driver for any reason suggesting they’ve broken the law.
What Happens at a DUI Checkpoint?
Although DUI checkpoints are not legal in Texas, you still need to show respect to law enforcement that pulls you aside. You do have rights, and they will be protected, but what you do when you are pulled over will reduce your chances of ending up in the back of a police car. Here’s what you should do.
1. Present Your Information
When you approach the roadblock, the police will likely ask for your license and registration. Do not resist; provide the information to the officer. Becoming angry or uncooperative will make your situation worse and give the officers more of a reason to detain you. Before reaching into any compartments to get your information, ask the police or make sure they understand what you are reaching for. Always keep your hands where they can be seen by the officers while they question you.
2. Do Not Argue
If you have been stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, you may want to try to get out of your situation by claiming the officer did not have just reasons to pull you over. Although this is method has been effective in the past, it has since been debunked through the ruling that the risks and dangers of DUI outweigh the level of intrusion at a DUI checkpoint. In other words, the police can stop you and question you at a checkpoint even without reason that you have been driving while intoxicated.
3. Keep Quiet
The law does not require you to speak to a police officer even though you were pulled over. Aside from providing your identification, you do not need to answer any other questions the police officers may ask. Even if they ask you where you are going or if you have been drinking, you do not need to answer.
4. Refuse Sobriety Tests
If the police have reason to believe you have been drinking, they may ask you to step out of your vehicle and perform various tests. Some of these tests may include a walk-and-turn test, a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, or a handheld breathalyzer. It is your right to refuse these tests and decline participation, and you will not be penalized.
5. Decline Searches
In some circumstances, the police may ask to do a search of your vehicle. You can refuse this without penalty. The only time police have the authority to search your vehicle is with a court-issued warrant or your verbal consent.
Understanding and Exercising Your Rights
If you are stopped by an officer for a DUI, either while driving or stopped at an illegal sobriety checkpoint, there is an appropriate way to handle the situation to prevent it from escalating. As mentioned above, you can politely decline to volunteer for the sobriety test and respectfully refuse to have your vehicle searched. The key to preventing a self-incriminating situation is to be respectful but aware of your rights. These checkpoints are illegal, so you do not have to submit to the authorities unless they can provide clear evidence that you have been driving while intoxicated.
In the case where you have been arrested for a DUI, help is still there. Drinking while driving is a serious crime and law enforcement in America is getting stricter about penalties as a deterrent. There still may be consequences such as fines for you to pay, but with the help of a bail bondsman, you can spend the pre-trial time out of jail.
Arrested for DWI? PCS Bail Bonds Will Help You
Driving while intoxicated is wrong, but sometimes people make mistakes. Drinking while driving is a still a huge problem across Texas, and when people fail to abide by the law, accidents happen. If you or someone you know needs bail for an arrest related to DUI, PCS Bail Bonds can help. We understand that citizens have rights that need to be protected, even when they’ve made mistakes and broken the law. With over 25 years of experience in dealing with court cases, we are confident in our ability to help you.
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