Driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges can lead to fines, jail time and the temporary loss of your driving privileges. No one wants to lose the freedom to drive or wind up with a criminal record because they stopped at happy hour after work or went to a social gathering.
Understanding the scenarios in which a police officer could potentially arrest you for a DWI offense might help you avoid charges or determine the best way to respond to them.
After a collision
If police officers suspect chemical impairment at the scene of a crash, even if the wreck only involves one vehicle, they will likely test and then arrest the driver showing signs of impairment.
Even if you were not the one who caused a crash, the police officer responding to the collision could still potentially arrest you for a DWI if you show signs of impairment at the scene, or fail field sobriety or chemical breath tests after the crash.
When you display poor driving
One of the most common reasons that people get arrested for DWI is poor driving. Breaking for no reason, swerving across the road or failing to respond when a traffic light changes could all be reasons for a police officer to suspect chemical impairment and pull someone over.
Then, during the traffic stop, they will ask questions and possibly conduct tests to affirm their suspicions. Any driving actions that imply impairment could lead to a traffic stop and later, arrest.
When a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is too high
Some people get arrested for DUI offenses during a traffic stop for something completely unrelated. Maybe you exceeded the posted speed limit or had a burned-out turn signal. During your conversation, the officer began to suspect that you had something to drink and eventually requested a breath test, which you failed.
In Texas, anyone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over 0.08% is guilty of a DWI even if they don’t display signs of impaired driving. Being over the legal limit is a per se offense, meaning that it is illegal in an of itself, regardless of the actual impact.
Officers need a valid reason to pull you over and probable cause to demand chemicals testing. In Texas, the courts have ruled against the use of sobriety checkpoints, so they are not a source of DWI charges. Knowing when and why the police can charge you with drunk driving can help you comply with the law or respond appropriately to pending charges.