The first call you make after a DWI arrest in Houston should be to an experienced attorney. Texas is notorious for its strict alcohol and drug laws. Zero-tolerance policies, severe penalties, and lifelong ramifications for driving while intoxicated (DWI) serve to discourage motorists from drinking and driving.
Law officers are stringent in enforcing Texas’ DWI laws, making 90,066 related arrests in 2015. The steps you take immediately after an arrest for DWI can affect the future of your case. Keep yourself out of unnecessary trouble by following these guidelines if police arrest you for DWI.
Never resist arrest, whether innocent or guilty, or you could end up with additional charges against you. Do not argue or fight with the arresting officer or try to run. Remain calm and polite. Obey the officer’s orders. Failure to obey orders or asking an officer to repeat him/herself could end up as evidence of your intoxication.
Know, however, that you do not have to talk, give information, or answer questions until you have an attorney present. Politely decline to answer questions until you’ve spoken to a lawyer.
Do not answer any law enforcement questions that could be potentially incriminating. If you think giving up a piece of information will incriminate you in some way, keep it to yourself. If you’re not sure, keep it to yourself. It is entirely within your Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent during police questioning.
Do not let an officer trick, coerce, or intimidate you into answering questions. Hold your ground and politely refuse to answer any questions. Do not lie to officers, as authorities later use it against you in court. Instead, don’t say anything at all until you have an attorney by your side.
In Texas, you automatically consent to give a chemical test if under suspicion of DWI. Refusing this type of test can result in automatic penalties such as license suspension. An officer can use a refusal as evidence that you knew you would fail, resulting in a conviction on top of penalties for refusing the test.
A field sobriety test, however, is different. The law does not obligate you to consent to a field test, and you should politely refuse to take one. Field tests are subjective and not reliable indicators of intoxication. You can also refuse a hand-held breathalyzer test, which can be unreliable, and simply state that you will take one at the police station.
If the police arrest you and bring you to the station for alleged DWI, wait patiently for your one phone call. Police must give you this call, but not necessarily in a timely manner. They may take their time processing your case before giving you the phone. Use the call to seek legal counsel.
Call a trusted friend and ask him or her to call a Houston criminal defense attorney. Most offer free initial case evaluations so you won’t have to pay for the call. Help from an attorney can help you remain calm and protect your rights during detainment. The sooner you retain an attorney, the better for combating a DWI in Texas.
Once the station releases you (prior to your first hearing), start gathering as much information as possible about your case. Get the name of your arresting officer(s) and a copy of your official police report. Note how much you drank, where you were before you drove, how the officer behaved, what you said to the police, why the office initially pulled you over, and everything else you can think of relating to your case.
The more details you can recall about your arrest, the stronger your case will be. From there, work with your criminal defense lawyer to come up with a strategy. Your lawyer can help you fight the charges or come to a plea agreement to lessen the penalties against you.