When law enforcement officers pull you over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you are likely to be overwhelmed, scared, and uncertain what to do. Fort Worth DWI stops can be highly intimidating, and law enforcement officers often use the opportunity to obtain evidence against you. By educating yourself about DWI and traffic stops in Texas, you place yourself in a better position to protect your rights and avoid self-incrimination.
All too often, law enforcement officers attempt to coerce or intimidate you into “cooperating” with them. While it is reasonable to want to cooperate with police, you risk making statements or providing evidence that can be used against you later. An experienced DWI attorney can help you understand when to answer questions and when to remain silent.
Reasonable Suspicion and Fort Worth Traffic Stops
Law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion to stop drivers. This is a lower standard than probable cause, but authorities still must have a valid and reasonable justification for believing that drivers have committed a traffic violation or criminal offense. Absent reasonable suspicion, police have no legal right to initiate traffic stops.
The standard of reasonable suspicion requires evidence that would lead an objective person to reasonably believe, given the circumstances, that a criminal offense has occurred. Reasonable suspicion requires more than a mere hunch, and some objective facts must exist to justify Fort Worth DWI traffic stops.
Asserting Your Right to Remain Silent
While it may seem polite and respectful to answer the questions of law enforcement when asked, individuals are not required to do so. The U.S. Constitution specifically states that individuals have the right to remain silent when speaking might expose them to self-incrimination. This right is important to keep in mind during DWI stops in Fort Worth.
Even questions that may seem innocent can cause individuals to provide answers that police may later use against them. As a result, regardless of how persistent police officers during questioning, individuals may wish to exercise their right to silence politely and respectfully. Persons in this situation are entitled to legal counsel and should invoke this right before answering any questions by the police.
A criminal defense attorney can be present during any interrogations, whether during roadside stops or questioning at the police station. This layer of protection may prevent individuals from inadvertently providing police with evidence that can be used later in a DWI prosecution.
Although remaining silent may not avoid an arrest, it can help prevent a criminal conviction. The inconvenience of an arrest may be justifiable if it assists helps prevent self-incrimination and subsequent prosecution on criminal charges.
Ask an Attorney About DWI Traffic Stops in Fort Worth
Various circumstances can lead police officers to conduct Fort Worth DWI stops based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. These situations might include observations of drivers speeding or driving too slow for conditions, failing to maintain their lanes, driving erratically, or committing other traffic violations. A lack of reasonable suspicion to justify a traffic stop can lead to the inadmissibility of evidence in your DWI case.
Even if law enforcement officers have reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop, drivers still have the right to remain silent under the U.S. Constitution. You should exercise your right to contact legal counsel before making any statements to police or answering even seemingly innocuous questions. Protecting yourself against self-incrimination may be instrumental to a positive outcome in your DWI case.