Monday, December 22, 2008

DWI Crackdown? Or crackdown on your rights

In order to stop and detain a driver, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that the driver is breaking the law. This could be anything from not signaling a lane change to having an expired inspection sticker to swerving into oncoming traffic.

Once the citizen has been detained, the police must have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed in order to place the citizen under arrest. Officers typically rely on several "signs of intoxication" including glassy or bloodshot eyes, the smell of an alcoholic beverage, the admission of drinking alcohol and slurred speech. If the officer administers police coordination exercises at the scene, the results of those flawed and unfair tests will also be considered.

In Texas it is not against the law to have an alcoholic beverage and then drive. It is only against the law if the driver has lost the normal use of his or her mental and/or physical faculties at the time of driving.

MADD is touting the national crackdown on drunk driving that will be hitting the nation's roadways this week and next. This crackdown represents yet another assault on our constitutional rights as local police, prosecutors and courts will be teaming up to make it easier to turn ordinary citizens into criminals by forcing those accused of drunk driving to give up evidence that can be used against them.

Remember that you have the right to refuse to perform any roadside or station-house coordination exercises a police officer asks you to do. You also have the right not to answer any questions aside from identification questions. You have the right to refuse to blow into the state's breath test machine. In short, you have the constitutional right not to incriminate yourself.

If you feel your rights were violated or that you were wrongly arrested for DWI, contact my office immediately.

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