Driving While Intoxicated
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
If you have been charged with a DWI, it is critical to reach out to an experienced DUI defense attorney. A DWI charge requires representation by a skilled attorney because the consequences attached to a DWI conviction are severe.
To be convicted of a DWI in Texas, the state must prove either that you were operating a motor vehicle without the normal use of your mental or physical faculties because you were under the influence of some intoxicating substance or that you were operating a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher. The state must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Possible Defenses to DWI in Texas
Every DWI case is unique, but there are three general categories of defenses that an experienced attorney may use.
- Challenge the Arrest
A police officer must act legally when they arrest you. The police cannot violate your constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures. This means multiple things. First, the officer must have had a reasonable suspicion of a law violation when he or she stopped your car. A police officer has a reasonable suspicion when they have a specific and articulate reason for why they stopped your car, like speeding, erratic driving, or swerving. If there is no reason, your attorney can argue the stop itself was illegal.
Furthermore, the police officer must have had probable cause to detain you, instead of just issuing a ticket and letting you drive away. Reasonable suspicion typically comes from such evidence as slurred speech, smelling alcohol, seeing an open container, or lack of motor skills. The police also cannot violate your Miranda rights during the arrest, which include your right to remain silent.
If the police violated your constitutional rights, evidence may be suppressed. Examples of evidence that could be excluded include police observations, breathalyzer tests, video recordings, field sobriety test results, and statements made by the driver. This is critical because it means that the state cannot use the evidence to prove its case against you. Your case may even be dismissed.
- Challenge the Sobriety Field Tests, Breath Tests, and Blood Tests
An experienced attorney will also challenge the sobriety field tests, breath tests, and blood tests. The one-leg stand, walk-and-turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus are all examples of field sobriety tests used in Texas. These tests must be administered in accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Standards. The results of the test can be challenged if the person administering the test failed to follow correct procedure or mistakenly interpreted the results. In addition, the driver’s fatigue, natural lack of coordination, underlying medical conditions, and weight can all affect the results.
Additionally, breath tests can be affected by the driver’s medical conditions, the temperature of their breath, and the calibration of the machine, and human error can occur during the collection, handling, or testing of blood tests.
- Challenge the Police Officer Testimony
Police officers, like anyone else, can make mistakes. An attorney can challenge the police officer’s memory, inconsistent testimony, and potential bias towards the defendant. The police officer can be discredited and any mistakes exposed.
Penalties for DWI Offenses in Texas
Prison time, costly fines, and the suspension of your driver’s license are all potential penalties for a DWI conviction. The sentence depends on the specific circumstances and rests primarily on how many prior convictions the offender had and his or her BAC level.
- First Offense
If it is your first DWI and you had less than a .15% BAC, the penalty is three to six months in jail, a fine of less than $2,000, and the suspension of your driver’s license from 90 days to 12 months. However, if your BAC was higher than .15%, the penalty increases to a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $4,000.
- Second Offense
If it is your second DWI conviction, the penalty is 30 days to 12 months in jail, up to a $4,000 fine, and the suspension of your driver’s license from six months to two years.
- Third Offense
On your third offense, the penalty rises to two to ten years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine, and the suspension of your driver’s license from six months to two years.
- Non-Legal Consequences
In addition to the above, a DWI can affect your employment, your professional licenses, the custody and visitation of your children, and your right to use and own firearms.
Your DWI Attorney
Because of the serious penalties for a DWI conviction, it is essential to hire an attorney to present a strong defense. Philip D. Ray is an experienced Dallas attorney who knows how to challenge law enforcement to make sure that your rights are protected. Call Philip D. Ray today to schedule a consultation at (469) 588-6770.