Getting pulled over at a DWI stop can be confusing and anxiety-inducing, especially if you’ve never encountered law enforcement at a traffic stop before. It helps to remain calm and avoid saying or doing anything that might worsen the situation.
Furthermore, you should behave politely even if you’re certain that you’re not on the wrong side of the law. After all, law enforcement officials are humans, and just like anyone else, your actions – and their conscious and subconscious biases – may determine how they perceive and treat you.
Why you may be pulled over for a DWI traffic stop
For a law enforcement officer to pull over a motorist for drunk driving, they must have reasonable suspicion for the stop. Police generally establish this through observation. A law enforcement officer can stop a motorist if they notice them:
- Marking an illegal turn
- Straddling the center line
- Drifting from one lane to another
- Driving erratic or extremely slow
- Nearly hitting other vehicles on the road
- Making a stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason
When a law enforcement officer signals you to stop, it’s essential to do so promptly and safely. Use your turn signal, find a well-lit and secure location and come to a complete stop. Remember, the initial moments set the tone for the interaction.
Remaining calm is paramount during a DWI stop. Officers are trained to detect signs of nervousness or agitation, which may raise suspicions. Keep your hands visible, avoid sudden movements and be respectful when responding to questions.
Communication do’s and don’ts
One common mistake people make is admitting to consuming alcohol. Instead, you should politely decline to answer queries about alcohol consumption without legal representation. Admissions can be used against you later, potentially impacting your case.
While it’s within your rights to refuse field sobriety tests, refusing a breathalyzer test may result in consequences like license suspension, depending on the timing of the request. According to Texas Transportation Code § 724.015, a related license suspension can be as long as six months.
Cooperate with the officer’s requests for identification and registration. However, avoid providing unnecessary information. Brief, clear responses can help to protect your rights without antagonizing law enforcement.
Understanding what not to do at a DWI stop is vital for protecting your rights and minimizing potential consequences. You can navigate these situations more confidently by staying informed, remaining calm and knowing your legal rights.