Are DWI Checkpoints Legal in Texas?

DWI checkpoints are technically illegal in Texas, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about a DWI arrest under other circumstances.

Many people have heard that DWI checkpoints are unconstitutional in Texas, which goes back to a 1994 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals case. In Holt v. State, 887 S.W.2d 16, the court agreed with an appellant who argued that passive sobriety checkpoints violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches.

Because Texas doesn’t have a statewide procedure authorized by a “politically accountable governing body,” the court stated DWI checkpoints are unconstitutional until official guidelines for conducting such a checkpoint are established.

No such guidelines exist to date, but DWI arrests haven’t stopped.

What Is a DWI Checkpoint?

A DWI checkpoint is a roadblock established by law enforcement, often in a location where police expect to catch a higher percentage of DWI drivers. Such locations are often along main roads – which may be the only roads – to and from business districts with bars, clubs, and other locations that serve alcohol.

What Happens at a DWI Checkpoint?

Drivers who approach a DWI checkpoint are typically directed to stop their vehicles. A police officer will ask to see the driver’s license and registration, which the driver legally must provide. During the stop, the police officer investigates for signs of DWI, such as a driver’s slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, or difficulty producing the requested paperwork.

If the officer believes the driver is intoxicated, they will order them to exit the vehicle. The officer may offer the driver to take a voluntary breathalyzer or field sobriety test, but both of these can be declined without consequence while the driver is detained. If the officer still believes the driver is intoxicated, the driver may be arrested.

Do I Have to Take a Breathalyzer Test in Texas?

Under Texas’s implied consent law, all drivers must submit to breath, blood, and/or urine tests after they’ve been arrested for DWI.

Although the preliminary breath test requested during detainment is voluntary, all drivers must submit to breathalyzers and/or chemical tests of their blood or urine after they’re arrested. If a driver under arrest refuses, their driver’s license is automatically revoked regardless of the outcome of their DWI arrest.

Beware of ‘License Checkpoints’ & Other Roadblocks

Because DWI checkpoints are illegal in Texas, law enforcement may establish other kinds of checkpoints, such as those checking to make sure people are driving with a valid driver’s license. These roadblocks fall into a legal gray area that can result in your DWI arrest.

During a license checkpoint, a police officer will ask to see your license. If the officer notices signs of intoxication, everything that can happen at an official DWI stop can happen at a license checkpoint – and it may all be legal.

Can I Turn Around to Avoid a DWI Checkpoint?

If you suspect a law enforcement roadblock is conducting illegal DWI searches, you can turn around to avoid it as long as you aren’t breaking any traffic laws. If you do make an illegal U-turn or turn onto a blocked-off road, a police officer may leave the roadblock to conduct a traffic stop.

At this point, you may be investigated for DWI and/or written a traffic citation.

What Should I Do After a DWI Arrest?

If you are arrested for DWI, contact The Law Office of Rene A. Flores PLLC for legal assistance. Our experienced attorney has what it takes to help you understand your charges and build a defense that can help. With our assistance, you may be able to avoid or mitigate penalties for DWI.

Learn more during a consultation with our attorney. Contact The Law Office of Rene A. Flores PLLC online now to learn more.

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