Are DWI Checkpoints Legal in Texas?
In Texas, as well as across the United States, it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) or 0.08% or higher. However, the use of driving while intoxicated (DWI) checkpoints by law enforcement is another story. This has proven to be a divisive issue and in the U.S., 38 states allow DWI checkpoints while 12 do not. Texas belongs to the latter category. Within state borders, sobriety checkpoints are not authorized as courts have found the practice to be unconstitutional.
Implied Consent and Drunk Driving
Before we discuss the details of DWI roadblocks, it is important to understand when a person can be legally stopped and investigated under the suspicion of drunk driving. If an officer has a reason to believe that a driver is intoxicated, that driver may be asked to take a sobriety test. If arrested, a driver may be given a blood test.
In Texas, all drivers must abide by “complied consent” laws, which state that by driving, all motorists “consent” to take these sobriety tests if arrested. This means that if you are driving on the road, you have already given your consent. While you may be able to refuse to take a blood test (except for in limited situations), it will result in the administrative suspension of your license. It is important to emphasize that police must possess a valid reason for conducting a test or arrest for DWI.
What the Law Says about Sobriety Checkpoints
The question of legality concerning the use of DWI checkpoints hinges on a citizen’s Fourth Amendment right, which grants protections against unreasonable search and seizures. While Texas does not have a law explicitly banning these checkpoints (as some states do), state courts interpretation of the Constitution holds that the practice violates the Fourth Amendment.
The problem is that during a DWI checkpoint, drivers are being profiled based solely on their location. An officer initiates an “investigation” based not on any observed behavior or violation of the law, but simply because they were driving down a particular street. This means a sobriety checkpoint would allow the police to stop a driver without any reason to believe that a person has broken the law.
Arrested for DWI? 972-339-8033
If you have been arrested and charged with DWI, do not waste any time in contacting our Plano criminal defense attorney. Did the officer possess probable cause? Did law enforcement violate your Fourth Amendment right? At Peveto Law, we can help you to understand the charges you face as well as what may lie ahead in your case.
Schedule a free consultation with our law firm today and together we can build a hard-hitting defense.