DWI Checkpoints: Are They Legal in Texas?

  • Sep 7 2018

DWI checkpoints are roadblocks that the police use to assess the sobriety of passing drivers. Such stops are often set up at dates and times when high numbers of intoxicated drivers are expected to be on the roads, such as New Year’s Eve. And at these checkpoints, the police often perform breathalyzer tests on individuals whom they suspect to be intoxicated. But are DWI checkpoints legal in Texas?

The Legality of DWI Checkpoints in Texas

The legality of DWI checkpoints is complicated. DWI checkpoints have been challenged on the basis that they violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Some states, however, permit DWI checkpoints, claiming that public safety concerns outweigh those affecting individual rights. Courts in different states have generally approved DWI checkpoints when:

  • The level of intrusion to drivers in minimal
  • The state can demonstrate an interest in protecting the general public from intoxicated drivers
  • The state can demonstrate that the DWI checkpoints are effective in ensuring public safety

However, it is important to note that Texas has not approved DWI checkpoints, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held in 1991 that such checkpoints violated Texas drivers’ Fourth Amendment rights and were unconstitutional. Therefore, if you’ve been arrested based on a stop at a DWI checkpoint in Texas, you should immediately consult with a Texas criminal defense attorney, as it is quite possible that your rights have been violated.

Reasonable Suspicion

Despite the issues discussed above, police in Texas are still permitted to detain anyone who they reasonably believe to be driving while intoxicated. And if they suspect an individual of driving while intoxicated due to symptoms of drunkenness such as red eyes or slurred speech, and that individual then fails field sobriety tests, then he or she will be required to take a breathalyzer or blood test. Refusal to take either test can be used against a defendant during his or her criminal trial.

Avoiding DWI Checkpoints

Finally, if a driver turns around and flees a DWI checkpoint, this may serve to  provide the authorities with reasonable suspicion that the individual is driving while intoxicated. Therefore,  it may actually be more advantageous for drivers to consent to checkpoint stops and challenge the charges later.

Texas DWI Legal Representation

Due to the severity of the consequences, legal representation is imperative when facing DWI charges. Therefore, if you’ve been charged with DWI in Texas, it’s important that you engage the services of an experienced Texas criminal defense firm in order to achieve the best possible results in your case. Phil Baker, P.C., has a proven track record of successfully defending clients against DWI charges throughout the state of Texas. Whether it’s challenging the accuracy of a DWI test or uncovering potential civil rights violations, our experienced criminal defense attorneys will work to protect your driving record and achieve the best possible outcome. Please contact us for a consultation.

Posted in: DWI/DUI Defense

Fighting for the Rights of Texans

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