Imagine for a moment your DWI stop and arrest along a Houston-area highway. What is the first moment that you should tell police that you want to call your Texas DWI Specialist attorney to learn about and assert your legal rights? Thousands of motorists ask that question of themselves as a DWI arrest proceeds to their disadvantage, while they ignore their legal rights and personal interests. Only later do they learn that if they had requested, indeed politely but firmly demanded, to call an expert DWI lawyer, they might well have beat their DWI charges.
The Magic Moment
Don't be caught unawares and, in so doing, give away your legal rights and defenses. The answer to when to call your DWI lawyer is crystal clear: the moment that police in a roadside stop go beyond getting your name, birthdate, and address, to asking questions relating to a potential DWI charge. That magic moment usually occurs within seconds of your DWI stop, once the officer has your identification. Ask to call your DWI lawyer the moment that the officer goes from getting your name to asking what you've been eating and drinking, where you've just been that evening, and other DWI-related questions. Don't answer any questions relating to a potential DWI charge until you have spoken to your lawyer.
Here's why you should ask to call your DWI lawyer the moment the arresting officer starts to ask DWI-related questions. The law labels custodial interrogation that moment when the police turn from getting your identification to learning from you whether you have committed a DWI crime. Under the Constitution's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, you have the right to your own lawyer's counsel during custodial interrogation. If you assert that right and the police ignore your demand for a DWI lawyer, then the evidence police gain from you may be inadmissible.
Custodial interrogations are common in roadside DWI arrests, although they may not seem to the arrestee like they are interrogations. Custody is when you are not free to leave, such as when an officer has pulled your vehicle over, requiring that you stop to answer questions. Interrogation means asking questions relating to a suspected crime. The interrogating officer may be perfectly calm, friendly, and polite, but it's still interrogation if the questions seek information about a possible DWI crime. These are the sorts of innocent-looking questions that officers commonly ask in a DWI stop, seeking highly incriminating answers:
- Have you had anything to drink this evening? gaining direct admissions of alcohol ingestion;
- Have you had anything to eat this evening? gaining information about the alcohol's absorption rate;
- Have you taken any drugs or medication? relating to drugged driving and mixed alcohol-drug DWI charges;
- How are you feeling, lightheaded or dizzy? relating to symptoms of alcohol impairment;
- When did you last sleep? Feeling tired? relating to more symptoms of alcohol or depressive-drug impairment;
- Where have you been just now? revealing evidence of where alcohol consumption may have occurred;
- With whom were you out? revealing potential witnesses to alcohol consumption or drug use;
- Do you know your speed just before I pulled you over? seeking admission of probable cause for the stop;
- Any reason why your vehicle was weaving? seeking to confirm other observations of probable cause for the stop.
Don't Misunderstand Roles
Road-patrol officers can be masters and are trained at gaining the trust and confidence of DWI suspects whom they pull over for roadside stops. They may offer friendly advice that things will go better for you if you share incriminating information, when in fact, things will not. They may be thoughtful and caring in other respects, providing comfort and reassurance. Appreciate officers who share common decency with their arrestees. Arrests are often not easy and can be dangerous.
But don't misunderstand a road-patrol officer's role and purpose in a DWI stop. Once the officer assures your health and safety and turns to discovering what happened, the officer isn't acting on your behalf, no matter how much the officer may make it seem so. The officer is instead investigating what the officer believes could be a serious DWI crime, while believing that the person the officer stopped committed that crime. The officer is, in other words, your adversary in an adversarial system.
You don't have to be uncivil to an officer investigating a suspected DWI. In fact, you should always be polite and respectful, but doing so doesn't mean you are legally obligated to disclose everything they are asking you. Certainly don't treat an officer disrespectfully, especially with any threats or hostility. You can instead accept and even return basic civility without giving up your right to remain silent and to have the counsel of DWI Specialist Doug Murphy. Just remember: the DWI attorney waiting for your telephone call is your advocate. Police officers and other emergency personnel at the scene are not your counselors or advocates.
Asserting Your Right to Counsel
An officer arresting for a suspected DWI will not invite the arrestee to call a lawyer. To get the officer to stop your custodial interrogation, you must affirmatively ask to call your DWI lawyer. People are generally accustomed to obeying the police. Declining to answer the officer's questions beyond your identification won't necessarily feel obedient or polite. Officers can subtly make arrestees feel bad for firmly asserting their right to counsel. But you must firmly assert that right, or you will lose it to the officer's persistent questioning.
Police do not necessarily have to read your Miranda rights to gain incriminating information from you. Miranda warnings require the police to tell you that you have the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer, and that anything you say can and will be used against you. Yet if you are not in custody and are instead free to leave, but you linger to speak with police, police may use your information against you without having read you any warnings. Police may use against you any information you shared that they can construe as your voluntary assistance.
What Happens After You Ask to Call Your Lawyer
So, you've politely told the arresting officer that you are not answering any more questions and instead want to call your lawyer. What happens next is up to the officer. For your own safety and the safety of all involved, expect to obey any order that the officer gives you. Those orders may include to get out of your vehicle, to move away from your vehicle, and to stand or sit patiently in a certain location. Those orders may also include not to reach for your cell phone, not to call a family member or friend, and not to call your DWI lawyer. The officer may have grounds in safety or emergency concerns to delay or deny your call to your DWI lawyer.
Your concern is to firmly, clearly, and consistently assert the right to call your lawyer, not necessarily that the officer immediately permit you to do so. You need not, and indeed should not, argue with an officer. If and when the arresting officer or officers at the booking station permit you to make a call that you have firmly but politely demanded, then promptly call Board Certified DWI Specialist Doug Murphy. Attorney Murphy's team will guide you through the next steps in the process, until attorney Murphy can appear on your behalf to advocate your rights for you directly. You will then be able to think clearly and wisely about your own best interests, while asserting your legal rights to protect those interests.
Prepare to Assert Your Right to Counsel
A DWI stop and arrest can shock or frighten almost any driver. Clear thinking can be very difficult in a roadside arrest situation. Adrenaline can cause blood pressure to increase, the heart to pound, and the ears to ring. Better, then, to prepare for a roadside arrest or other emergency than to leave plans to the alarming moment. Take these steps to ensure that you can reach attorney Murphy and his team in the event that you need to do so:
- carry your cell phone on your person or in your vehicle;
- enter attorney Murphy's number (713) 229-8333 in your phone contacts;
- identify attorney Murphy in your contacts as your DWI Specialist;
- share attorney Murphy's name and number with family and friends.
The last point, to share attorney Murphy's name and number with family and friends, can be especially helpful. Your arrest may leave you in a condition or circumstance where you are unable to call attorney Murphy's team yourself. Your only capable call may be to your closest friend or family member. In that event, you want your friend or family member to retain attorney Murphy for you and to share with you his counsel and instructions, while you await your opportunity to meet and consult with him. And who knows but that your friends or family members may need attorney Murphy's help.
Other Reasons to Get Prompt Representation
You have several other good reasons to get the prompt help of premier DWI Specialist Doug Murphy, beyond ensuring that you assert your right to remain silent and to have counsel during custodial interrogation. Several important steps in the DWI-charge process can take place in the first few minutes, hours, and days after arrest, including:
- you must promptly decide whether to take or refuse a breathalyzer test, after the officer gives you written information advising you of the consequences;
- you may need to promptly decide whether to answer certain questions, direct officers to certain items or information, or disclose other exonerating witnesses and other evidence;
- you may need to review and comply with, and prepare to later challenge, a warrant for a blood test or other evidence;
- if you refuse a breathalyzer test and the officer takes your license and gives you a temporary license, you must contest license suspension in an administrative hearing within fifteen days;
- you may need representation and advocacy at or after arraignment to set bond conditions for your prompt release from jail;
- you may need counsel to evaluate early diversion or plea bargain opportunities prosecutors present;
- you may need to prepare for a preliminary hearing determining the sufficiency of the evidence to support the DWI charges.
Navigating each of these single steps wisely can be challenging and confusing. Navigating them together, at once, in a strategic fashion best fitting to your DWI defense, would likely be impossible without expert representation. Promptly calling and retaining DWI Specialist attorney Doug Murphy gives you the benefit of his advice, counsel, and representation as to each of these steps. Bringing attorney Murphy on early enables him to coordinate and strategically manage your DWI defense.
Promptly Retain Expert Representation
To keep it simple, the time to call a DWI Specialist lawyer is right after the officer makes the DWI stop, identifies the suspect driver, and permits that driver to do as the driver promptly requests, which is to call the DWI lawyer. The single best thing you can do when arrested on a DWI charge is to promptly retain Board Certified DWI Specialist Doug Murphy. He has the premier standing as a national DWI expert to timely assert your constitutional and statutory rights while preserving all available DWI defenses. To beat a Texas DWI charge, rely on 2021 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year Doug Murphy. Trust attorney Murphy with your DWI defense. He is one of only two Texas lawyers holding both DWI Board Certification and Criminal Law Certification. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 to discuss your case today.