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Are DWI Checkpoints Legal in Texas?

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a total of 37 states conduct DWI checkpoints, also known as DUI and sobriety checkpoints. A sobriety or DWI checkpoint is a location where local police officers set up to check drivers for signs of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; however, officers also use checkpoints to look for people who are driving on suspended licenses and people who have warrants out for their arrest. As a general rule, the states that conduct DWI checkpoints do so as a part of their bigger anti-drinking and driving campaigns. But, “Due to legal issues surrounding their use, not all states conduct sobriety checkpoints. Some states have laws authorizing their use. Others forbid them or are silent on the issue,” says the GHSA. So, where does Texas stand on the issue? While 37 states have decided that sobriety checkpoints are perfectly legal, Texas is not one of them. DWI or sobriety checkpoints are NOT conducted in Texas because they are considered illegal under “Texas’ interpretation of federal Constitution,” says the GHSA.

Unlawful Police Stops in Texas

Since DWI checkpoints are illegal in Texas, the police cannot set up a checkpoint for any reason to look for drunk drivers. While it’s not common to see the police setting up an illegal DWI checkpoint, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It’s not impossible. The police cannot set up their own makeshift DWI checkpoint; for example, near a popular hotspot where bars or nightclubs are located. At the same time, they cannot conduct unlawful police stops. In order for the police to stop you on suspicion of DWI, they must have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The police cannot “cherry pick” bar patrons who leave a bar at closing time, nor can they park down the street from an establishment that serves alcohol and follow patrons as they exit the parking lot, only to pull them over to see if they’re driving under the influence. In order for the police stop to be legal, the officer must first observe behavior that was indicative of driving under the influence, such as:

  • Weaving
  • Speeding
  • Braking erratically
  • Driving too slowly for traffic
  • Running through a red light or stop sign
  • Driving without the headlights on at night

If you were arrested for DWI in Plano or Dallas and you believe the stop was unlawful, contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC at once to schedule a criminal defense consultation. Let our top-rated legal team defend you against DWI!