In the early morning hours of June 12, 2019, a group of friends in Montgomery County, Texas called it a night after an evening of drinking and sent for an Uber to get a ride home. A short time later, their arranged “sober” driver was in handcuffs, under arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI).
The friends ordered an Uber to pick them up from Golden Retriever Pub on Farm to Market Road 1488. Shortly after, an Uber driver named Elizabeth Warren picked up the three passengers to take them home. Shortly after leaving the pub, law enforcement officers reportedly witnessed her driving erratically. According to the police report, Warren was violating the speed limit and drifting across multiple lanes before being pulled over by police.
The police report went on to allege Warren smelled of alcohol when she first made contact with police. After allegedly failing field sobriety tests, the police report claims Warren told officers to “just put her in jail.” This statement, in addition to the other evidence, provided officers with sufficient probable cause to arrest her for DWI. While an arrest might have been imminent regardless, a statement like “just put me in jail” can be interpreted by law enforcement as an admission of guilt. Whether you've been given a Miranda warning or not, everything you say can be used against you.
Your Right to Remain Silent during a Texas DWI Investigation
If you have been stopped by the police, it is rarely in your best interest to be forthcoming. Law enforcement cannot force you to incriminate yourself, but if you do it voluntarily, they can take advantage of every word you say. So what are your rights when it comes to speaking with police?
In short, you are guaranteed protection from self-incrimination by the 5th Amendment to the Constitution. You are under no obligation to answer the officer's questions relating to any specific charge, be it DWI or even a traffic violation. However, there is some information you are required by law to divulge.
According to state law, you must provide your name, residence, and birth date whenever you are placed under arrest. If you are driving, you must also provide your driver's license, proof of insurance, and car registration upon request. Outside of these requirements, you are under no obligation to answer any questions. Officers like to ask leading questions like “how much have you had to drink tonight?” in an effort to trick you into admitting you've consumed alcohol. You are under no obligation to answer these questions.
Keep in mind, that does not mean refusing to answer carries no consequences. Law enforcement can consider a refusal to answer a question as a consciousness of guilt. What's more, lying to officers about your name, residence, or date of birth could result in a misdemeanor charge of Failure to Identify.
Let a Houston DWI Attorney Help
If you have been arrested under suspicion of DWI, you probably have questions about your legal rights. To discuss whether your rights were violated at the time of your arrest, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C.