You are an adult. And adults in Texas are allowed to have a drink and then drive so long as you are not illegally intoxicated. But for some police officers, especially around the Houston TX metropolitan area, they think you can't have a drink and any amount of at any time prior to getting behind the wheel is reason to harass and arrest you. So, you need to be prepared.
If you like to have a drink, whether at home or elsewhere, and then need to drive afterwards, there are things you should keep in mind so that (1) you can prevent an unwarranted Texas DWI arrest, but (2) if you fail to prevent a DWI arrest, then you at least know what to expect and how to respond.
How to Prevent a DWI Arrest
First thing's first, DWI arrests in Houston are preventable and you want to prevent one at any cost. That means you need to know your limits with drinking alcohol before driving so that you are not illegally intoxicated and are actually legally able to drive. For many of us, we do know, and we are safe about it. But for some of us, we fail to do the next important thing: obey all traffic rules regardless how minor you may think they are. It sounds simple, and it is. Most rules of the road are not enforced until after 9 pm when police officers are looking for drunk drivers. This means, for example:
- When you are turning left or right, use your turn signal.
- When there's a traffic stop ahead, come to a full stop.
- When you need to change your registration stickers, change them.
- When you need to change lanes, again: use your signal to indicate the same.
- When it is dusk or dark, use your lights.
When a person fails to do something as minor as using a turn signal, he or she opens the door up for a traffic stop. The police, especially at night, are looking for these minor things so that they can pull you over. A minor traffic violation is enough for "reasonable suspicion" required to pull you over. Then, once pulled over, the DWI questioning begins. And any hint of intoxication or drinking for that matter will be taken as probable cause to arrest you.
What to Know before a DWI Arrest
There are many things to know before a DWI arrest in Houston, Texas. These include:
- You have rights, and you need to know your rights.
- You need to be polite with the police, but you should generally not speak to the police or answer their questions but what you are legally obligated to answer, like identifying information: your name, your address.
- You can get arrested for a DWI even if the preliminary breath test indicates you are not over the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of .08%.
- A DWI does not result in misdemeanors every time, but depending on the number of prior DWI convictions and the circumstances of the immediate case, it can be a felony DWI -- and that means additional problems for you.
- Sentencing for a DWI conviction is usually standard but you should know there are circumstances where the sentence for a Texas DWI can be enhanced, leading to tougher penalties.
- Sometimes after drinking people sleep in their cars, thinking they are doing what's right and not driving, but this, too, depending on the circumstances, can still lead to a DWI arrest in Texas.
- Likewise, a person can be arrested for a Texas DWI even when he or she was not witnessed driving or operating the vehicle by the police -- and this is true in incidents where the driver is not sleeping the alcohol off in the vehicle but pulled over and parked and outside of his vehicle for some reason.
- You can even be asked to take a breathalyzer test on a boat -- so a car is not necessary, period -- and in the Houston metropolitan area, we like our boats.
- There are a lot of misconceptions about Texas DWIs, you should know them, too. In this regard, Doug Murphy has also provided some do's and don'ts about DWI stops in Harris County, Texas.
The Most Important Thing to Know Before a DWI Arrest
If it happens that you are arrested for a DWI, know that you can defend yourself even if you think the case has already been decided against you. For many of you, it is your first run-in with the law, so you are scared and that's understandable. But what you won't forgive yourself for is realizing later that the outcome could have been much better for you if you had fought the charges with the help of an attorney who is Board Certified in both DWI defense and criminal law. And there are only two attorneys in all of Texas with this distinction, and one is right here in Houston, Texas: Doug Murphy.
So, the most important thing to know before a DWI arrest is simple: you can retain an attorney who can help you.