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Are DWI Checkpoints Legal in Texas?

Sign for a DUI checkpoint

Going home after a night out on the town can quickly become frightening if a driver sees police lights flashing ahead. While from a distance it may appear like a typical traffic stop, a driver may soon find themselves in an even more tense situation — a DWI checkpoint.

A checkpoint is a planned patrol on a stretch of road requiring all drivers passing to speak with law enforcement before going through. During a checkpoint, an officer will typically ask for the driver’s license and look for anything suspicious. If an officer suspects that the driver may be intoxicated or committing a traffic violation, that officer will ask the driver to go to a specific area for further investigation. From there, an officer may conduct a field sobriety test or additional testing and arrest a driver if they are suspected of being intoxicated.

Texas Legislation

While DWI checkpoints are legal in some states, Texas lawmakers have said otherwise. First, legislators stated that checkpoints violate a person’s Fourth Amendment right to unreasonable search and seizures. Additionally, the 1991 case of State v. Wagner, 821 SW 2d. 288 resulted in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling that checkpoints are illegal because of how law enforcement conducts these types of stops.

Can DWI Checkpoints Still Happen?

In Texas, law enforcement must have a reasonable suspicion that a driver is intoxicated to make a stop. That means that an officer must witness actions such as:

  • Lane swerving;
  • Speeding or slowing down for no reason;
  • Not stopping for stop signs or traffic lights;
  • Driving erratically; or,
  • Driving without headlights on in the dark.

This means that if a DWI checkpoint were to happen, an experienced Houston DWI attorney could argue that any subsequent actions taken by law enforcement after the checkpoint were illegal.

The Houston DWI Attorneys at The Law Offices of Jed Silverman

If you were charged with a DWI, the attorneys are ready to work with you. See how we have helped others facing similar situations and contact our team today to set up a free consultation of your case. (713) 597-2221

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