DWIs are a unique area of criminal investigations. This area of the law has evolved dramatically since the late 1980s. DWI investigation and prosecution took on a life of its own after well-meaning, but political interest groups got a hold of it.
There’s now a whole body of law and investigatory regulation involving DWI investigation. When a person is facing this accusation, they need to be mindful that it is a criminal investigation. They need to remember to ask that an attorney is present during discussions. This is particularly true if they have been stopped or officers arrived at a scene where an individual is in a vehicle.
The Roadside Stop
It may be impractical if you’re out on the side of a roadway to demand an attorney be present for you to answer any questions. In that instance, the person should invoke their fifth amendment right not to answer any questions.
Officers, typically on DWI investigations, will try to gain cooperation by saying that there are certain procedures that they have to go through before they reach a decision to arrest somebody for DWI.
A lot of times, not always, but a lot of times that’s just false. I would say there’s a good chance that the officers, whether they want to admit it or not, have already made a decision within the first 30 to 40 seconds. Subjectively in their minds, this is a person that’s most likely going to jail for DWI.
Everything that happens there after is really in my experience a bolstering effort. The officers will say “Well, we’re trying to be objective, we haven’t made a decision.” I know a lot of officers may fuss at me about this, but really an officer looks at someone and says, “Okay, I believe this person’s intoxicated. Let me go through number of tests that ultimately will lead to strengthening of my case of driving while intoxicated.”
Roadside Video and Audio
Another thing that a person needs to be mindful of is digital recording. Whether audio recordings or video recordings, the recording aspect of a DWI investigation is very important. You can talk about science, about a breath test, about a blood test, about a horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Still in my experience, the #1 most important aspect of a DWI investigation when you put it in front of a jury or a prosecutor, is how the person appeared at that moment.
Your first interactions with an officer in a DWI investigation need to not show or be confused with, the behavior of a person who would be typically viewed as intoxicated. I’ve had people become very animated or very moody. That’s just the way they are, not because they are intoxicated. That’s the way they are built, but nevertheless, those behavior characteristics are misinterpreted as signs of intoxication. There are so-called mood swings of alcohol, which doesn’t have a lot of validity in real science. Nevertheless, it is always used or touted as a sign of intoxication.
Mood swings, anger, sadness, traumatic behaviors are highlighted in a DWI video to attempt to demonstrate that a person was intoxicated while they were driving. Behaving responsibly on that video, remembering that you’re being recorded, and making all your statements clearly understood are very important.
There is also this idea that they have to cooperate to get out of this situation. A person needs to choose to whether to cooperate with a DWI investigation or not. This decision should based this on whether they feel that cooperation is going to benefit to them. Typically, you won’t receive a lot of benefits if the officer has you already pegged for potentially driving while intoxicated. Of course, people really don’t know that because the officer is not saying, “Hey I’m about to arrest you for driving while intoxicated.” The officers are likely to say that, “Well we’re going to conduct this investigation, then at the end of the investigation we’ll make a decision on whether or not you’re okay to drive.”
If you feel that your behaviors are going to profit somehow at this investigation either immediately or later down the road, then you have the right to cooperate. As a standard rule, if you are in this situation with the officer, or you believe the officer believes that you are intoxicated and driving, then it is best to respectfully decline to cooperate with the investigation.
Questions to Answer and Not Answer
You don’t have to answer any of the questions other than your basics; Who you are? Where you are from? And show them your drivers license. But other questions such as where you from? Have you been drinking? What’s the matter, why are you acting this way? Those are questions that you can rightfully refuse to answer. Just exercise your fifth amendment right not to answer any questions and ask for a lawyer. Even if a lawyer’s not present, then you can refuse to answer any questions. That is a good rule if you find yourself under this particular circumstance.
Contact a DWI Defense Attorney
If you are facing potential charges for driving while intoxicated call an experienced DWI defense lawyer. If you are under some type of a criminal investigation call an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact Steve Keathley at the Keathley and Keathley Law Firm in Corsicana, Texas at (903) 417-0889.