Pulled Over in Texas? Know Your Rights
If the police pull you over in the State of Texas, it does not mean that you have no rights or that you are guilty of a crime. Texas police make hundreds of thousands of stops every year – especially for suspected DWIs – and if you happen to be one of the motorists who is pulled over, it is in your best interest to know your rights.
Why Was I Pulled Over?
Despite what you may have heard, the police cannot pull you over if they do not have a legitimate reason for doing so. To stop you in the first place, the police officer must have reasonable suspicion. To support their reasonable suspicion, the police officer in question must be able to cite a reason – or reasons – why you are suspected of having been in the commission of a crime. If the charge is DWI, observing any of the following driving practices would likely suffice:
Swerving in and out of one's lane – or otherwise driving erratically
Driving more slowly than is reasonable
Having smoke billowing out of one's windows
The fact is that it does not take much for an officer to establish reasonable suspicion for pulling a motorist over. This fact is why it is up to you to know, understand, and actively protect your rights if the police unjustly pull you over.
Can the Police Search My Car?
If the police have pulled you over, it is essential to know that it does not mean that the officer has the universal right to search your car. Before a police officer can proceed with such a search, that officer needs probable cause. Probable cause can amount to any of the following:
The smell of marijuana emanating from your vehicle
The prominent smell of alcohol on your breath
A visible bottle of alcohol in your vehicle
A drug dog who alerts the officer to the presence of an illegal substance
If the officer who pulls you over does not have probable cause for searching your vehicle, you have the legal right to refuse such a search.
In the Event Your Car Is Searched
If the police do proceed to search your car, you are well-advised to remain silent because anything you do say can be used against you. In practice, this means that you should only answer the officer's most basic questions, such as those related to your name, address, and occupation. There is absolutely no reason for you to launch into an explanation of the events that led to you being pulled over – or to anything else. The more you say, the more wiggle room you allow the police to accuse you of slurring your speech or speaking erratically. Save your comments for your experienced criminal lawyer.
You Need an Experienced Killeen Criminal Lawyer on Your Side
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is committed to skillfully applying his vast experience in successfully defending cases like yours to his defense of your exact case. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 today.