DWI Stops & Testing: The Police Pullover Procedure

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What to Expect and What to Do if Pulled Over by Police for Suspicion of DWI in Texas - If you are pulled over in the state of Texas on suspicion of DWI, it is important to remember that from the moment the police officer signals for you to pull over, he or she will be watching everything you do—or do not do. To initiate the stop, the officer has already noted something he believes shows you are driving while drunk or impaired. While you cannot change that initial observation, what you do from that point on can have a huge impact on the outcome of the stop. The police officer will be watching how you pull over. This means if you slow down too abruptly, pull over in an unsafe location, or in any way drive erratically or outside the accepted “normal” manner of driving, it will be noted in the officer’s report. Consider the following if you are pulled over in the state of Texas for DWI or DUI.

  1. First, slow down, turn on your blinker, and pull over only when it is safe to do so. This means that if there is no safe area to pull over once the officer signals you to do so, you are allowed to continue driving in a safe manner until there is a wide shoulder or other safe place to pull into.
  2. Once you have found a safe place to stop, place your car in park, roll down both your window and the passenger window, then turn off your vehicle.
  3. The officer may approach from either side, depending on your location and the level of traffic. Keep both your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them. Do not make any quick or suspicious movements.
  4. Once asked, provide the officer with your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. Keep these documents in a place where you can easily get to them and do not have to search for them or fumble as you attempt to remove them from your purse or wallet.
  5. Under no circumstances should you attempt to engage in conversation with the officer. Be polite and provide the necessary documents, then when the officer asks you if you have been drinking, how much you had to drink, or other similar questions, simply remain silent. Your answers to these questions—and any inconsistency in your answers—absolutely will be used against you in court. The officer will also be looking for slurred speech, or on odor of alcohol on your breath.
  6. You have the right to politely say to the officer “I don’t wish to answer any questions until I have spoken to my attorney.”
  7. Be polite, addressing the officer as Sir or Ma’am, but do not ever, for even one single second, allow the officer to convince you that he or she is your friend, and that if you will simply answer the questions, you will be on your way home. This is simply not true, no matter what the officer says to you. Police officers are trained to extract information which will later be used against you.  
  8. Never argue with the police officer and never lie to the officer. Either tactic will absolutely come back to haunt you.
  9. Never attempt to get out of your vehicle unless and until the officer asks you to get out.
  10. Field sobriety tests are voluntary—although your refusal can be used against you in court as “proof” of your intoxication under the theory that you would not have refused if you believed you could easily pass the field sobriety tests.
  11. In the same vein, breathalyzer tests are not mandatory, although you will be hit with a six-month driver’s license suspension if you refuse the breathalyzer. Whether you agree to field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test is entirely up to you. There are pros and cons both ways, however, in some cases, it is easier for your Houston DWI attorney to challenge the results of either test than to explain away your refusal to take the tests. Even if you believe you performed well on the field sobriety tests, chances are high the officer will say you did not do well.
  12. If you are placed under arrest for a DWI in Texas or a DUI in Texas, do not argue with the officer. There is no scenario in which you would win such an argument. Cooperate fully, allowing the officer to handcuff you and place you in the police cruiser.
  13. Never try to “talk your way out” of an arrest. Do not tell the officer you will lose your job if arrested, your spouse will leave you, or your mother will be ashamed of you. None of those things matter in the least to the police officer. At this point, your only goal is to minimize the potential consequences of your arrest. Do not chat with the officer on the way to the station, as slurred speech will be noted.
  14. As soon as you are placed in the police car, politely tell the officer you would like to speak to an attorney. While the officer is supposed to advise you of your Miranda rights—including the right to an attorney as soon as you are placed under arrest—if he or she does not do this, make a mental note of it, and ask to speak to an attorney.
  15. Once you are at the police station, you will be asked to take a chemical test. Since breath tests are more unreliable than blood tests, a breath test might be the better choice.
  16. Once you have been released from jail, take a few minutes to write down every single thing you can remember about your DWI or DUI arrest. The more notes you take, the easier it will be for your attorney to fight your charges. Fresh memories are more accurate than attempting to remember details down the line. Make notes of the following:
  • Where you were and what you were doing prior to driving;
  • How much—and what—you were drinking;
  • How long after you had stopped drinking when you were pulled over;
  • Where you were pulled over;
  • How the officer behaved;
  • What the officer said, including any instructions given to you;
  • How you responded to the officer’s instructions;
  • Whether you were read your Miranda rights and at what point;
  • Whether you took field sobriety tests, and any information associated with those tests, including the location, what you were wearing (especially your shoes), and any other information you can remember;
  • Whether you took a chemical test, and how long it had been since your last drink.
  1. Contact an experienced Houston DWI attorney as quickly as possible. This is absolutely the single most important thing you can do for your future. Having a knowledgeable Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI lawyer in your corner, who knows the applicable Texas laws and can answer your questions and guide you through the process is truly invaluable.

There can be a number of issues associated with the police pull-over procedure used in your case, however it can be difficult, without the assistance of an experienced Houston criminal lawyer, to determine whether there were illegal aspects associated with your DWI or DUI stop. The police officer must have had probable cause to pull you over in the first place, however the standard is not particularly high as far as lawfully stopping a motorist. Probable cause means a reasonably intelligent person would believe you had committed an offense because you were driving erratically, crossing the center line, driving too fast or too slow, or any number of other issues. Therefore, a police officer can generally stop anyone legally, although if you truly were not committing any driving mistake, be sure and tell your attorney. In other words, if the officer pulled you over simply because you were driving at 2:00 a.m. in the morning, this is not reasonable or legal. If, however, he or she pulls you over because you were weaving back and forth across the center line, this is both reasonable and legal.

How an Experienced Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI Lawyer Can Help - If you were illegally stopped, your Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI lawyers can use the information when building your case. Being pulled over on suspicion of DWI or DUI in Texas can be extremely stressful, whether you have been drinking or not. If you have been drinking and are arrested, the penalties for a DWI in Texas can be quite severe. A Harris County arrest in Texas means that, if convicted, you will have Harris County criminal records to deal with in the future. These Harris County criminal records could result in the loss of your job, and can cause difficulty in securing a job in the future. If your position requires a security clearance or professional license, such a criminal record can impact your livelihood in a very concrete manner.

If you feel some aspect of your Harris County arrest for DWI in Texas or DUI in Texas was unlawful, it is extremely important that you relay this information to your Sullo & Sullo Houston criminal defense attorneys. The Sullo & Sullo attorneys will work hard to help you avoid Harris County jail and Harris County criminal records. We understand that facing a Harris County District Attorney on your own can be an anxiety-filled experience. At Sullo & Sullo, our Houston criminal defense attorneys will take some of that anxiety from you. Contact the experienced Houston DWI lawyers at Sullo & Sullo today.

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