It is that time of year in San Antonio: Fiesta. For the next few weeks San Antonio will be home to countless events filled with live music, great food, and a lot of alcohol. Law enforcement officers will be patrolling in full force for the next few weeks and will be on the look out to stop anyone and everyone that they suspect of driving while intoxicated. So, for all of you intending to partake in this year’s festivities, it is critical that you know your rights.
When a law enforcement officer pulls you over, be polite. You are likely on camera and being recorded by a microphone. When asked to present ID and insurance, you must comply. If the officer asks you to step out of the car, you cannot refuse. But you do have a right to refuse to answer any questions that may have a tendency to incriminate yourself. Our advice: politely tell the officer that you are invoking your right to remain silent and inform him that you would like to speak to your attorney before answering any more questions.
Field Sobriety Tests
Don’t do them. If you have not read our series of posts detailing how these tests are a bad idea, go do that now. You have a right to (respectfully) refuse. It is important to know that if a law enforcement officer is tells you that he “just wants to check your eyes” or “just wants to make sure you’re okay to drive” he has already made up his mind that he is arresting you for DWI. He is only seeking more evidence to use against you. These tests are difficult to pass even if you are sober and we often see clients who failed the tests and were later exonerated when a blood or breath test found they were not in fact drunk. How did they fail the tests then? Because the tests are designed in a way that makes them easy to fail. Politely refuse.
Law enforcement officers will try to convince you that it is “no refusal” is the law. Well that is not entirely true. You are within your rights to refuse to take a breath test. And you should refuse it. You are within your rights to refuse a blood test. And you should refuse that as well. Once you do, the officer will be forced to get a search warrant to take your blood and there are no guarantees that he will succeed, although there is a high probability that he will. Nevertheless, there is no reason not to make him do his job and get that warrant. If he succeeds in getting a warrant and a warrant is presented to you, however, you must comply. Do not fight or else they will legally use force to take your blood. But, the time that it takes to get a warrant can be critical to your case and the number of things that can go wrong with that process can give you grounds to throw out the blood test in court.
At RGP, we do not condone drinking and driving. It is a dangerous activity that costs innocent lives. But, even a wrongful arrest for DWI can throw a person’s life into a tailspin – it can cost you money for defense and can affect your relationship with your employer. Therefore, it is critical that you know your rights if you are in the unfortunate position of encountering law enforcement on your journey home from your Fiesta festivities.
If you, your family, or your friends find yourself in that unlucky position, call our offices immediately at (210) 540-3449 for immediate help and a free consultation.