Thanks to a 1991 case decided by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, sobriety checkpoints are not legal in the Lonestar State. This means that you are not technically required to stop at a DWI checkpoint in Texas. Some police departments still conduct DWI (driving while intoxicated) checkpoints under the guise of ensuring drivers have a valid license and insurance. Drunk or drugged driving charges stemming from these checkpoints may not stand up in court because Texas case law says they violate drivers’ Fourth Amendment rights.
If you believe you were arrested as part of an illegal DWI checkpoint, call Eddington Worley. Our team can fight your charges and protect your future: 855-508-9785.
How DWI Checkpoints Work
Checkpoints are commonly used by police departments in many states to curb drunk driving. During these checkpoints, the police stop every car to check their license and insurance and see if the driver is displaying any signs of drug or alcohol use. They may ask the driver to submit to breath or blood testing if:
- The police smell alcohol or drugs
- The driver’s speech is slurred or their eyes are bloodshot
- There are open containers or visible drug paraphernalia in the car
While these checkpoints are a legal way to identify drunk drivers in most states, they are illegal in Texas and several other states. If the police stopped you at a checkpoint and this led to your arrest for a DWI, you may be able to challenge the stop in court successfully.
DWI Checkpoints Do Not Stand Up in Texas Courts
Both in Texas and across the country, this type of sobriety checkpoint has faced legal challenges up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court. Many people believe they violate drivers’ Fourth Amendment rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures.
In a 1991 case, State v. Wagner, 821 SW 2d. 288, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that DWI checkpoints were illegal because of the way local police departments used them and in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision the previous year.
In State v. Wagner:
- A man who stopped at a checkpoint near Dallas faced arrest and DWI charges
- The Court convicted him of the offense
- They presented evidence collected on the scene at the checkpoint
- His defense argued this was an illegal search and seizure
- They appealed the conviction
In the end, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals sided with the man. This decision effectively made the use of DWI roadblocks illegal in Texas, based on this case law.
Understanding Legal DWI Arrests in Texas
Under Texas law, the police can stop and detain anyone they believe may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, they must have a good reason to suspect the driver is intoxicated. For the police to legally stop you, an officer must observe driving behaviors that make them question your sobriety. These may include:
- Inability to maintain lane
- Speeding or driving too slowly
- Erratic driving
- Running traffic lights or signs
- Driving without your lights after dark
Your Options If You Believe You Were Arrested Based on a DWI Checkpoint Stop
While there is case law that makes it difficult for a checkpoint stop to hold up in court, this does not stop all police departments from having checkpoints.
In some cases, instead of checkpoints, counties will have “no refusal” weekends in which police officers are able to obtain warrants quickly to force you to submit to a blood test.
If you stopped at a DWI checkpoint in Texas and the police arrested you for a DWI or a related offense, you should reach out to a DWI defense attorney familiar with Texas checkpoint stop cases. At Eddington Worley, our team can help you fight the charges against you.
Talk to a Texas DWI Defense Attorney About Your Arrest Today
If the police arrested you following your stop at an illegal DWI checkpoint in Texas, the team from Eddington Worley is here to help. Contact us as soon as possible after your arrest and let us go to work on your case. We can protect your rights, explain the case law related to DWI checkpoints, and defend you during the criminal justice process.
Call us today at 855-508-9785 to discuss the circumstances of your arrest with a member of our team.