Rights During a DWI Stop
Attentive Legal Representation in Denton County
Many people might not be aware that even at the initial traffic stop for a DWI, they have certain protections. Exercising these rights can help prevent drivers from unknowingly providing evidence that the State can use to strengthen their case against them. If the driver’s rights were violated at any point during the stop, this may be grounds for a reduction of charges or dismissal of the case.
If you were charged with driving while intoxicated, consult with our Denton lawyers about your circumstances. At Marsala Law Group, we deliver personalized legal representation and will listen to what happened to you from the initial stop to the time of your arrest. We will create a defense strategy based on your particular circumstance.
A Typical DWI Stop
Although no two DWI-related situations are ever the same, some similarities exist that many drivers will experience.
A typical DWI stop may proceed as follows:
- The officer stops a driver for a traffic violation
- The officer suspects that the driver has been consuming alcohol
- The officer administers the field sobriety tests
- The officer administers a chemical test of some sort to verify the alcohol content in the driver’s body
Each step in the investigation can be specifically and successfully attacked. Discuss your situation with us, and we can discuss your legal options.
Understanding Your Rights During a DWI Stop
First, drivers have the right to be stopped for a reason. It is unconstitutional for an officer to pull over a person without cause. Even in instances where law enforcement has set up road checkpoints, they must have a significant reason. Additionally, they must follow a set process to avoid violating the rights of the citizen. If the stop is made without cause, all the evidence that is accumulated thereafter to prove a person was driving while intoxicated will be suppressed.
Typically, an officer will make a traffic stop because they claim to have seen a violation, such as failing to use a turn signal, driving erratically, or having a broken tail light. Even if the officer is only looking for a reason to stop a vehicle, with the further purpose of investigating for DWI, the stop will be treated as legal and valid if the driver did violate a law. In other words, the true intent for the stop is irrelevant, as long as the officer had probable cause.
Second, drivers have the right to remain silent. Even though officers aren't required to read Miranda rights during a stop, motorists do not have to answer questions beyond providing basic identifying information. The person can respectfully decline to give statements.
Third, drivers have the right to refuse field sobriety tests (FSTs). The officer will administer these assessments to determine whether or not the motorist is inebriated. And while they might phrase their request so it seems like the FSTs are required, they are not. They are mainly conducted so the officer can establish probable cause to make an arrest and later be used as evidence in court.
Fourth, drivers have the right to decline a search of their vehicle. During a roadside stop, an officer can only look through the car if there’s reason to believe a crime has been or will be committed. For instance, if they see an open bottle of alcohol on the passenger seat, that may suggest the motorist was drinking and driving. However, a cop cannot search a car for no reason. But if the driver gives consent, they’ve given up their right to be free from unreasonable searches.
Contact Marsala Law Group Today
Our Denton attorneys are direct and upfront, and we’ll provide an honest assessment of your case. We’ll help you understand your rights and determine if any were violated during your DWI stop.
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