Texas DWI Law

The majority of arrests for DWI begin with an allegation of a minor traffic violation:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to signal lane change
  • Driving with expired registration or inspection
  • Failure to maintain a single lane

Because DWI vigilance on the part of law enforcement is at record levels, traffic laws are patrolled vigorously during the nighttime hours.

If the officer smells alcohol on your breath or person, you admit to drinking, or the officer notices alcohol containers in your vehicle, you can expect to be asked to exit your vehicle and prove that you are not intoxicated, by performing the pseudo-scientific “standardized field sobriety tests” (SFST’s). These “tests” were developed by the NHTSA to help law enforcement investigate and arrest evaluate individuals suspected of DWI.

San Antonio DWI/DUI Defense Attorney

Field sobriety “tests” are highly subjective and depend on the integrity and ability of the officer administrating them to strictly adhere to the standardized protocol.

The battery of standardized field tests consists of three exercises

  1. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
  2. Walk-and-Turn
  3. The One-leg Stand

These tests are composed of a set of specific instructions, specific observations (“clues”), and a standard grading system that are used by the police for the purposes of investigating and arresting individuals for DWI. Although these tests purport to be “standardized” in that they are conducted in the same manner each and every time, it is not uncommon for officers to deviate from the standardized protocol. The field sobriety “tests” are highly subjective and depend on the integrity, and ability, of the officer administrating them to strictly adhere to the standardized protocol, and correctly assess the presence or absence of the clues.

Non-standardized DWI Tests

Often, police officers investigating DWI will also seek to have you conduct non-standardized exercises such as reciting the alphabet or counting forwards or backwards between two numbers. If the officer asks you to perform either of these tests it is usually only after they have finished administering the “standardized” tests, and have decided to arrest you for DWI. The non-standardized tests are only conducted in order to gather additional incriminating evidence against you. It is important that you understand that you have the right to refuse to participate in these exercises. You also have the right to remain silent and you do not have to consent to a breath or blood test.

The DWI Arrest

If a police officer has the opinion that there exists “probable cause” to believe you were operating (which is defined more broadly than driving) a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, you will be arrested for DWI. You will be placed in handcuffs, placed in a police vehicle and transported to jail. You should be advised, both orally and in writing, of penalties under Texas law should you refuse to provide a specimen of your breath and/or blood for chemical analysis, or provide a specimen indicating a prohibited concentration (0.08). These include the fact that your license will be suspended AUTOMATICALLY if you do not request an administrative hearing (ALR) within 15 days from the date of your arrest. Read More About the ALR process.

You Have the Right to Refuse

Also, in Bexar and several other Texas counties law enforcement is employing a tactic which they refer to as “no-refusal” under which the authorities claim they will take a specimen of your blood if your refuse the breath test, which leads many people to believe that they no longer have the right to refuse the breath test. In reality, you still have the right to refuse to provide law enforcement with a specimen of your breath or blood. Should they wish draw your blood without your consent, they are required to obtain a search warrant to do so. Remember the general rule: No Consent + No warrant = No Blood!

Christopher Simpkins is an experienced and talented DWI defense lawyer, who understands not only the law, but the science as it applies to the crime of DWI in Texas. Mr. Simpkins is a member of the NCDD and he has the knowledge and in”sight needed to effectively develop and present a compelling and cutting edge defense in DWI trial litigation. If you or someone you care about has been arrested for DWI, call my office for a free initial consultation to discuss how I can help keep your DWI arrest from becoming a DWI conviction.


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