What to do when stopped by the police for DWI in Harris County

Harris County, Texas is the #1 county in the entire United States for DWI arrests. More people are arrested in Houston and Harris County than in any other county. It can happen to anyone. It happens on a daily basis, to people just like you and me. People who have never even spoken to a police officer or gotten a speeding ticket can go from driver to defendant in a very short time. Here are some helpful hints for what to do if the police stop you on suspicion of DWI.

First off, be polite. A police officer’s job is dangerous and stressful. Being rude or mean or insulting does nothing to help the situation, and in fact makes everything worse. Being polite goes a long way in life and in police encounters. Whatever you do, do not tell the officer that you pay their salary because you pay your taxes. I have asked several officers what they think of this line, and all agreed that it is insulting and inaccurate.

Second, make sure to have your driver license and insurance paperwork handy. Officers are trained to watch how people retrieve these common items on request, and if you have any trouble finding them they will use that against you. If you have a paper insurance policy, make sure it is in the glove box on top of everything else, or keep it pinned to the visor near your head. Your driver’s license should be front and center in your wallet, not loose in a pocket or purse. It pays to be prepared to provide these items to an officer on request in a timely and appropriate manner.

Third, politely refuse to do any of the “roadside gymnastics” field sobriety tests. These tests are very difficult to do, period. The police will use them against you regardless of how you perform. This is a situation where you can only hurt yourself, not help. If you have only had one or two drinks you can refuse to do the balancing tests, but request the officer obtain and use a portable breath test machine to show what your breath alcohol is. Warning: Only do this if you have only had one, maybe two drinks. Other than that, the portable breath machine is extremely inaccurate (and in fact inadmissible as evidence).

Fourth, politely refuse to provide a breath or blood specimen. In Harris County, the police will obtain a warrant and conduct a blood draw against your will. But, this is much more advisable than willingly providing evidence against yourself to the Houston Police Department.

Finally, ask to speak with an attorney. This stops the police from being able to ask you questions without a lawyer present. If you are going to be arrested, the best idea is to be polite, request a lawyer, and refuse to help the police make a case against you by providing a breath or blood specimen. Houston is a great place to live, but the law enforcement agencies in Harris County can and will do everything they can to obtain a conviction against you if they suspect you are driving while intoxicated. You need someone on your side to do everything they can to stop that from happening.

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