Stopped after Two Drinks in Texas: The Do’s and Don’ts Guide
“Just two beers, officer.”
Over the years, “two” has become the standard reply given by suspected drunk drivers when police ask how much they’ve had to drink. Police hear it so often that the response itself often raises a red flag.
But what if you really had just two drinks?
In Texas, it’s not illegal to have a drink and drive. It’s only illegal to drive if you are intoxicated – that is, if you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. And while every traffic stop is different, there are some things to keep in mind if you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror after you’ve had a margarita at Happy Hour or a glass of wine with dinner.
- DO find a safe place to stop. Immediately put on your blinker to signal your intent to pull over and then stop at the first safe location.
- DON’T make sudden movements. Stay calm. Put your hands on the steering wheel and wait patiently for the officer to approach. If it is night time, you might consider turning on the overhead light.
- DO always have your license and insurance easily accessible. If an officer sees you fumbling around, he or she may view it as a sign of intoxication. You may use your phone to pull up your insurance card, but remember that you’ll be handing the officer an unlocked phone that may contain texts or other revealing information.
- DON’T be rude. Be polite and respectful. Having an attitude or being argumentative won’t get you home any faster.
- DO know your rights. You have the right to remain silent. Other than giving your name and providing your driver’s license and insurance, you do not have to answer questions about your whereabouts or activities. When asked if you’ve been drinking or where you are coming from, you may answer with, “I’m sorry, but I’ve been advised not to answer any questions” or “I respectfully decline to answer any questions without my attorney present.” Keep in mind, however, that an officer can (and likely will) use your refusal to answer questions or complete tests as evidence of intoxication and may arrest you for DWI.
- DON’T lie. If you choose to answer the officer’s questions, be honest. Getting caught in a lie will not help the situation. If you had one beer two hours ago with a hamburger, that is not necessarily an incriminating statement. With few exceptions, one or two drinks won’t put you over the legal limit. Still, once the officer hears you’ve had something to drink, there’s a strong possibility he or she is going to ask you to perform sobriety tests.
- DON’T submit to field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests — which may include standing on one leg, walking heel-to-toe, or counting backward — are subjective and easy for anyone to fail. If you are extremely confident you are not intoxicated, consider politely declining the field sobriety test and requesting a blood draw at a nearby hospital right away. The results will speak for themselves.
- DO insist on your right to speak to an attorney if you’re arrested. Have the number of an experienced DWI lawyer at your fingertips and use it as soon as possible.
- DO calculate your BAC before you get behind the wheel. If you have had two drinks (or more), you can use a blood alcohol calculator to help determine whether or not you are impaired. If you are even slightly impaired, don’t risk it and call a friend, cab or an Uber.
Attorney Benson Varghese is the founder and managing partner of Varghese Summersett, a criminal defense firm based in Fort Worth, Texas. Benson has tried more than 100 cases before a jury and has extensive experience handling alcohol-related charges, including DWI, intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughter.