Holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, are times when law enforcement officers and Texas and throughout the US increase their efforts to arrest drunk drivers. As a result, officers often report higher-than-average numbers of DWI arrests during the holidays. Many people have the propensity to drink more during the holidays, especially at social activities, parties, and work functions. In some states, police officers will set up DWI checkpoints. At DWI checkpoints, all drivers must drive through the checkpoint. As drivers are driving through, police officers look for any suspicious activity or signs that drivers are intoxicated.
DWI Checkpoints Have Been Ruled Unconstitutional in Texas
DWI checkpoints have been ruled unconstitutional in Texas. Accordingly, there are no DWI checkpoints in Texas during holidays. DWI checkpoints happen when police officers set up a station or checkpoint to evaluate multiple drivers quickly and arrest any drivers they reasonably suspect may be intoxicated or committing a traffic violation. DWI checkpoints effectively identify intoxicated drivers and provide Public Safety benefits by stopping dangerous drivers. They also cause minimum intrusion on drivers who are not intoxicated.
Despite these benefits, a Texas judge ruled that DWI checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects citizens against unlawful searches and seizures. The judge who wrote the opinion ruled that a police officer who stops you without reasonable suspicion of a DWI or another crime is engaging in an unlawful seizure. Police officers stop every vehicle that goes through a DWI checkpoint, regardless if there is a reason to suspect that the driver is unlawfully intoxicated. The Texas Court ruled that the fact that DWI checkpoints catch intoxicated drivers does not justify the unlawful seizure of all drivers at the checkpoint.
Traffic Stops are Still Lawful
DWI checkpoints are unlawful in Texas. There is a difference between DWI checkpoints and being pulled over by a police officer, however. Police officers still have the right to pull over drivers they suspect of driving while intoxicated. For example, when a police officer reasonably suspects a driver is intoxicated, the officer can pull the driver over. If the police officer has probable cause to believe that the driver is intoxicated, the officer can arrest the driver. Most of the time, police officers use portable breathalyzer tests to determine the driver’s blood alcohol concentration level. When the officer makes an arrest and takes the driver back to the police station, the driver will be asked to take a breathalyzer test on a more accurate breathalyzer machine at the station. Police officers can also ask the driver to engage in one or more field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests gauge the driver’s reaction time, balance, and ability to drive safely.
Discuss Your Case with a Dallas/Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorney
Have you been pulled over for drunk driving in Texas during the holidays? If so, the experienced Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys at Abel Law Firm are here to help. Contact Abel Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can defend you and protect your rights.