Archive for December, 2017

What To Do If You Are Arrested for a DWI

Texas criminal defense attorneyThe overwhelming experience of an arrest can be made even more confusing and overwhelming when a suspect does not know what to do. By learning about the arrest process and what to do – and more importantly, what not to do –  suspects will be better able to protect their legal rights. A Montgomery County DWI attorney can provide important legal advice that will protect your constitutional rights throughout the criminal case process.

(1) Don’t Panic

An arrest is a frightening experience. Many defendants are overwhelmed by the consequences they face. These consequences can include a criminal record, suspension of a driver’s license, court fines and fees, substance abuse screening and counseling, community service, jail time, and even consequences in one’s career (such as the suspension of a professional license, or disciplinary action from one’s employer). These consequences can be frightening, but they can be managed.

Unfortunately, some defendants panic and give up hope of being able to turn their lives around after a DWI. This is what one suspect did when police attempted to pull him over in Arlington on suspicion of drunk driving. The Washington Post reports that the suspect eventually drove into Lake Arlington in an attempt to evade arrest. Such panicky reactions often lead to additional criminal charges and consequences. An experienced attorney can help mitigate the damage of a DWI conviction, but only if the suspect does not first make the situation worse.

(2) Invoke Your Right to Silence

The Fifth Amendment protects criminal defendants from being made to incriminate themselves, and the government cannot compel a defendant to testify against himself or herself. This extends to incriminating statements made to law enforcement officers investigating a crime. This right is so important that in 1966, the United States Supreme Court determined that police must inform suspects of the right to remain silent and not answer incriminating questions. This opinion became the well-known Miranda Warnings.

On the scene of an arrest, it can be difficult to know what questions to answer. When a suspect is not sure whether a particular question may incriminate him or her, the best thing he or she can do is politely decline to answer without a lawyer present. Police can, however, ask for identification. Suspects should also cooperate with simple requests related to booking procedures, fingerprints, and similar activities. But suspects do have the right to remain silent throughout this process and decline to answer any incriminating questions that are posed to them.

(3) Invoke Your Right to Counsel

Both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments protect a defendant’s right to counsel. In the 1981 case of Edwards v. Arizona, the Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean that once a suspect in custody unambiguously invokes his or her right to counsel, police must stop interrogation until counsel has been made available, or until the suspect voluntarily re-initiates communication with investigators.

DWI defendants should be very careful to invoke this right as clearly as possible. Several recent cases have allowed police to continue questioning suspects when the request for an attorney was not made clearly enough. Only by unambiguously invoking the right can suspects stop police from asking incriminating questions. Consult with a Montgomery County DWI attorney as soon as possible after any arrest in order to protect your legal rights and promote fairness in the criminal court process.