Houston is a great place to live, and the city comes alive at night. But Houston also has one of the top ten fatality rates for people hit by drunk drivers. As a result, police in Houston take drinking and driving seriously and often patrol areas where they think drunk drivers are most likely to be.
If you're a Houstonian, it's good to know where DWI arrests are most likely to happen in our city, as well as the most dangerous times for drivers and the most common signs of an impaired driver. While we know that few people would intentionally drive while drunk, mistakes happen. If the police stop you for a suspected DWI, it's important to know what you should do.
DWI Arrest Hotspots in Houston
An arrest for a DWI can happen anywhere. Still, you should be on high alert in locations where the police are most frequently looking for impaired drivers, including near bars and restaurants, sporting venues, colleges and universities, and the most common car collision areas in Houston.
Bars and Nightlife
The two most common zip codes for DWI arrests in Houston are 77007 and 77002. These locations include the Washington Avenue corridor and downtown, both full of bars and popular nightspots. The third highest zip code for DWI arrests is 77057, just west of the Galleria mall. Some other hot spots for police looking for drinking drivers include hotspots such as:
- Cle, with its giant pool parties;
- Spire, one of Houston's largest event spaces;
- The Midtown area, Houston's “nightlife nexus,”; and
- Montrose, the coolest place for musicians.
Houston is also great for sports fans. We have six professional major league teams, including football (the Houston Texans), basketball (the Houston Rockets), and baseball (the Houston Astros). We also can't forget the Dash and Dynamo (soccer), and the SaberCats (rugby), and dozens of semi-professional teams throughout the area. We also have five area Division I college athletic programs to choose from every season, including the University of Houston, Rice University, Houston Baptist University, Texas Southern University, and Prairie View A&M University.
With this sporting greatness comes the potential for people drinking and celebrating and heading out on the road. As a result, police will watch carefully for impaired drivers near NRG Stadium, Minute Maid Park, the Toyota Center, TEDCU Stadium, Rice Stadium, and the Fertitta Center.
Colleges and Universities
If you're near a college or university in the area, particularly on the weekends or in the evenings, the police will be on high alert. If you plan to drive near Rice, the University of Houston, or any other local college, be prepared to see a larger police presence and more stops for suspected DWIs in the area.
Most Common Accident Areas
Some of the most common areas for traffic accidents in the Houston area can also be fertile ground for police looking for drivers who have been drinking. Some of the top traffic locations in Houston include:
- Beltway 8 and Bissonnet Street
- Beltway 8 and Genoa Bluff Road
- I-45 and Louetta Road
- Beltway 8 and FM 1093
- Highway 6 and Westheimer
- FM 529 and Highway 6
- Beltway 8 and Alternate Route 109
Most Common Signs of Impaired Driving
Police can only stop you for a suspected DWI if they have a reasonable suspicion that you are driving while impaired. Things like breaking traffic laws by rolling through a stop sign, speeding, or failing to use turn signals can lead to a traffic stop. A police officer may also stop you if you drive recklessly, including:
- Driving at high rates of speed;
- Failing to stop at an intersection or light;
- Driving the wrong way down a street or on the wrong side of the road;
- Driving with your lights off;
- Driving off the road;
- Driving more than 10mph under the speed limit;
- Weaving between lanes; and
- Actively trying to evade the police.
An officer can point to any of these traffic violations as reasonable suspicion for a stop. Once a police officer makes a traffic stop, they will watch for signs of alcohol or drug use, including:
- An odor of drugs or alcohol coming from the car or you;
- Drug or alcohol paraphernalia in plain sight in your car; and
- Your behavior, including slurred speech, eye contact, sleepiness, confusion, and impaired motor function or balance and coordination.
- Your attitude with the police; and
- Your refusal to take a field sobriety test.
While you don't have to consent to a field sobriety test, the police can use your refusal as part of probable cause to support a DWI arrest. Of course, the police can also use the results of a field sobriety test against you to support probable cause for an arrest.
What Should You Do if Stopped for Suspected DWI?
So, if the police pull you over for a suspected DWI, what should you do? Once an officer pulls you over, they will be watching you for signs of drug or alcohol use. What you do and say matters a great deal.
- Follow traffic laws.
While pulling over, be sure to use your blinker and carefully pull over to a safe location. Keep your hands on the wheel and wait for the officer to approach your car. Stay calm.
- Don't be rude.
You should always be polite and neutral when pulled over. If you are belligerent, argumentative, or yelling, the police may consider this a sign that you're impaired and ask you to complete a field sobriety test. But you don't have to go out of your way to be overly friendly or polite. Just don't be rude. If you have any other physical condition that may affect your behavior, speech, vision, or hearing, you should let the police officer know.
- Be careful of what you say.
Be short and concise when answering questions. Don't overtalk, even if you are an extrovert. You can say that you don't want to answer questions, and you do not have to answer questions about your drinking or prescription drug use. You don't have to tell the officer where you were or who you were with.
- Know your rights.
If asked, you can refuse to take a field sobriety test. If you do take one, be sure to let the officer know of any conditions you may have that could impact the test. For example, if it's drizzling and the ground is slippery, if you have a physical disability, are wearing heels, or think any other environmental or physical condition will affect the test, you should bring it up.
- Don't give permission.
Don't permit the police to search your car, your bags, or your person. If they'd like to do so, the officers should obtain a warrant.
- Don't trust the police.
While we all like to think that we'll be given the benefit of the doubt during a traffic stop, the police are looking for signs of drinking or drug use. They will typically be nice and try to win your confidence.
- Don't resist arrest.
If the police do arrest you, cooperate. Do not resist arrest, or you could face additional charges.
- Call a DWI specialist and write everything down.
Don't try to do this on your own. In the meantime, you should write down everything you remember about your arrest, including:
- Where you were before you drove;
- How much you drank, if anything
- Who you were with;
- Where were you pulled over;
- How quickly did your arrest occur after the stop;
- How did the police act and how did you act; and
- Did the police give you your Miranda rights?
Whatever you do, it's important not to panic. You are innocent until proven guilty, and you can defend a DWI with an experienced attorney.
Why Should You Hire a DWI Specialist?
Hiring the right attorney should be one of your first priorities after a DWI arrest. Please don't assume that you can't challenge a DWI charge or that you have to plead guilty. You can defend a DWI with the right attorney.
A DWI specialist is an expert in DWI defense, with litigation experience and deep knowledge of both criminal defense law, DWI law, and the technology and evidence used in DWI cases. A DWI specialist can tailor a plan for your defense, including challenging evidence or blood alcohol tests, identifying violations of your rights, and the weaknesses of the prosecution's case.
Attorney Doug Murphy is a DWI specialist. He is one of only two lawyers in Texas Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense. Best Lawyers in America also recently named Doug the “Lawyer of the Year” for 2021 in DWI defense based on the peer reviews of fellow Houston-area defense attorneys. Doug is a noted expert in DWI defense law, and attorneys throughout the nation seek his expertise.
If you're facing a DWI, contact our office today. A DWI can have long-lasting consequences on your life, but you do have legal options. We can help.