You’re driving along the I-14, anxious to get home after a client meeting ran overtime. Suddenly the folders piled on the passenger seat start to topple and you instinctively reach out to catch them. The movement affects your control of the steering wheel and sends you swerving into another lane. You quickly regain control and get back in your lane, but moments later, you hear sirens.
Even if you weren’t drinking, making the wrong decisions during and after a DUI stop can lead to months and possibly years of stress and worry. Below is an overview of what is likely to happen and how to handle the situation.
What Happens During A DUI Traffic Stop?
In the beginning, it’s like any other traffic stop. After pulling you over, the officer will ask for your license and registration. Then they ask if you’ve been drinking, and everything changes. No matter whether you say yes or no, you’ll typically be asked to exit your vehicle and perform field sobriety tests, which include:
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus test: Using your eyes, you follow an object like a finger or pen to the left and to the right while the officer checks for an involuntary bouncing or jerking of your eyeballs.
- Walk and turn test: You take a number of heel-to-toe steps along a straight line.
- One leg stand: As the name suggests, you stand on one leg while the officer checks your balance.
These tests can be difficult to do, especially if you’re nervous, have a physical or neurological disability, or simply wearing the wrong type of footwear. You can appear intoxicated even if you’ve never touched alcohol in your life.
You can legally refuse to perform field sobriety tests in Texas. Doing so limits what evidence the police can use against you. You could still be arrested for DUI, but an experienced defense attorney can help you challenge the charges against you.
Chemical Testing For DUI
If the officer suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test or provide a blood sample. You have the right to refuse, although the officer can still apply for a warrant to take a blood sample against your will. If this happens, a Texas DUI attorney can determine whether there are any issues with the warrant: if there are, the evidence from your blood test can be suppressed.
Texas Implied Consent Laws
Refusing a chemical test can have consequences under the state’s implied consent law, which is covered under Section 724.011 of the Texas Transportation Code. It says that when you receive your driver’s license, you are also consenting to a blood or breath test if a peace officer ever suspects you of impaired driving.
If you refuse or fail a chemical test, the officer can arrest you, confiscate your license, and issue a Notice of Suspension that allows you to drive temporarily while you request a hearing from the Texas Department of Public Safety to contest the suspension and await a final decision. If you don’t request one within 15 days, the DMV will continue to suspend your license for a 90-day period that starts 41 days after your arrest unless you are acquitted of DUI charges in court.
A first-time DUI conviction is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. You could face 72 hours to six months in jail. If your BAC was .15% or more, the offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The court could also suspend your license for up to a year and you could be subjected to a three-year annual license surcharge of up to $2,000.
Other potential consequences of a DUI conviction include:
- Inability to obtain jobs that involve a background check
- Problems getting into college
- Difficulty obtaining permanent resident status
At Bobby Dale Barina, Attorney At Law, we know how a DUI charge can affect the rest of your life. In addition to advocating for you at the administrative hearing, we will aggressively and exhaustively investigate the circumstances surrounding your arrest and use any irregularities to exclude the evidence and seek dismissal of the charges, if possible. To learn more, give us a call at 254-523-4446.