Larry P. McDougal
Larry P. McDougal - Attorney at Law
Richmond, Texas
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4th of July means firecrackers and DWI crackdowns

The Fourth of July is a big holiday for celebrating -- and Texas police know that. That's why law enforcement agencies throughout the state join forces every year in effort to take down as many suspected drunk drivers as possible.

Just like you can expect to see fireworks over the holiday weekend, you can also expect to see a myriad of DWI traffic stops throughout Fort Bend County. Additionally, law enforcement will be using "no refusal" initiatives over the holiday so that blood-alcohol tests can be taken immediately and on the spot.

While police have the objective of keeping the streets safe, frequently they can be overzealous in their efforts and arrest people without just cause. It's important that you know your rights and stand up for those rights if you are accused of drunk driving.

What you face after being charged with DWI

If you are accused of drunk driving this holiday weekend, you need to know what you are up against. The state of Texas takes a zero tolerance approach to DWI -- especially on holiday weekends -- and you will face numerous serious consequences.

Even when facing a first-time DWI charge, the stakes are high. You face jail time, up to $2,000 in fines (and more if a child was in the vehicle), a license suspension of three months to a year, increased insurance premiums as well as the effects a criminal record can have on your future.

The consequences for second or subsequent DWI convictions are even more severe, including up to $10,000 in fines and penalties and up to two years in jail.

You will need an effective criminal defense lawyer on your side if you want to minimize the consequences that a DWI conviction could have on your life.

How to stay out of trouble with the law this Independence Day

Of course, the best way to avoid these serious consequences is by not drinking and driving. Consider these tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on safe celebrating:

  • Plan a safe and sober ride home before the celebrating begins.
  • Find a sober ride home if you are impaired, such as a taxi, sober friend or family member or public transportation.
  • Avoid "buzzed" driving as well as "drunk" driving.

While you have every right to celebrate this Fourth of July weekend, doing so responsibly is the only way to ensure that you will maintain your independence.

What to remember if you are pulled over

Should you be stopped and detained by law enforcement over the holiday weekend -- or anytime --there are a few rules to remember:

  1. NEVER consent to giving a specimen of blood or breath.
  2. NEVER consent to a search of your person, vehicle or home.
  3. NEVER lie to a law enforcement officer, but NEVER admit to how much you had to drink, where you have been, if you are in possession of something illegal (drugs or fireworks), that you feel intoxicated or that you have done something else illegal.
  4. Always treat the law enforcement officer with courtesy and respect. Respectfully deny their request and tell them that you will not answer any questions without your lawyer present: "I WANT MY LAWYER!" Asking for a Lawyer NEVER makes you look guilty. It is your constitutional right.
  5. When being questioned by law enforcement, you must remember that they have a job to do. They are not your friend. They are trained to lie to you to get you to admit you committed a crime or to provide evidence against yourself.
  6. These rules will not prevent you from going to jail, but they will assist your attorney in defending the charges against you in court.

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