Did you know that sobriety checkpoints are not legal in Texas? Still, you may find yourself in a situation extremely similar to going through a DWI checkpoint. Here’s what you need to know about your rights at sobriety checkpoints.
Texas and Sobriety Checkpoints
In 1990, the Supreme Court granted every state the right to use DWI checkpoints as long as there was a standard and reasonable system in place. One year later, the Texas state government decided to make DWI checkpoints illegal, citing that they are a violation of Fourth Amendment rights.
The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable search and seizure. Because individuals can be searched and assessed without probable cause at sobriety checkpoints, Texas lawmakers determined this to be unconstitutional.
Other states that made DWI checkpoints illegal include:
- Rhode Island;
- And seven others
Despite checkpoints being illegal, Texas police still sometimes bend the law and set up roadblocks in an attempt to make more DWI arrests.
Holiday weekends are some of the most popular times for DWI checkpoints. With Labor Day approaching, remember that DWI checkpoints are not authorized in Texas, even on holiday weekends.
What Happens At A Sobriety Checkpoint
If you are stopped at an illegal sobriety checkpoint in Texas, here’s what you can expect.
First, the officer will typically ask you to provide your license and registration. During this initial interaction, they will be closely observing you and looking for any small sign of intoxication.
- Slurred speech;
- Shaky hands;
- If you appear disoriented; and/or,
- Any scent of alcohol coming from your breath or within the car.
If they decide there is a chance you are intoxicated, the next thing they may do is ask you to take a breath test. Because Texas has implied consent laws, refusal to take this test can result in a one-year license suspension. The police may also ask you to take a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests are not covered under implied consent laws and we recommend refusing to take these tests at all times. Even sober drivers have a record of failing these assessments.
If the officer determines you are intoxicated, you will be arrested. If not, you will be free to continue on your drive.
Tips When Going Through A Checkpoint
If you are subjected to an illegal sobriety checkpoint, follow these tips:
- Stay calm: anxiety behaviors may be perceived as intoxication.
- Don’t answer any questions: you are required to give your license and registration but do not need to answer any questions asked by the officer. You do not need to answer if asked if you have been drinking, where you are going, or any other details about your night.
- Do not take field sobriety tests: these are based fully on officer discretion and are not required by law.
Additionally, you are allowed to turn around to avoid going through a checkpoint. If you see a roadblock ahead and you can make a legal U-turn, it is within your right to do so.
Charged with DWI After Going Through A Checkpoint?
If you believe you were stopped during an illegal sobriety checkpoint, contact a lawyer immediately. A DWI attorney can help prove that the evidence against you was obtained during an illegal stop. Your charges will likely be fully dismissed as long as you have a strong defense team who can prove that the stop was a DWI checkpoint in disguise.
The Best Texas DWI Defense
When it comes to DWI charges, there is a lot at stake. At Deandra Grant Law, we have the experience needed to fight your charge, and the results to show our record of success. We are dedicated to protecting your rights. If you are facing DWI charges after going through an illegal sobriety checkpoint, contact our Dallas DWI lawyers today.