Driving While Intoxicated
Being charged with a DWI is an expensive, disruptive, and unpleasant experience. However, one of the most important things to remember is that being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted of one. This is why it is essential that you hire an experienced, aggressive defense attorney in San Antonio to help you navigate this complicated and confusing process. We will work with you through every step of the process to ensure that we meet all deadlines and that every action we take is intended to increase your chances of a good, fair outcome to your case.
Read more below about some of the specifics about being charged with and the consequences of Driving While Intoxicated in Texas, as well as other important information about your rights and options regarding your case. There are some time-sensitive issues in a DWI case that you need to be aware of, so it is in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced DWI defense attorney in San Antonio as soon as possible after your arrest.
Contact us now to schedule an initial appointment and consultation, where we will be able to discuss the specifics of your arrest, the charges that you are facing, and to learn how we can help you through this process. We have a history of successfully defending clients in DWI cases, and will be happy to share information about these successes with you during your initial consultation so that you can have a better idea of how we will work together.
What is a DWI in Texas?
A charge of Driving While Intoxicated, or DWI, in Texas is a serious charge that stems from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Legal intoxication is defined as having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of over .08, but since the charges cover a range of intoxicants, it can also include impairment from drugs other than alcohol that do not register on a breathalyzer test. If the arresting officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol or any mind-altering substance, you will likely be required to undergo a battery of standardized field sobriety tests (SFTS’s). These divided attention tests are used by officers to determine your level of functional control.
Depending on whether or not you have ever been previously charged or convicted with a DWI (or a DUI in another States), there are a variety of consequences that you will face for your current charges. Since the possible penalties in your current case depend on your criminal history, read the general overview materials below about possible outcomes for a guilty DWI finding.
DWI Penalties in Texas
As mentioned above, the range of possible penalties depends on a variety of factors that start with the circumstances of the current arrest and charges but also include things like your prior criminal history. Contact our team as soon as possible to speak about the specifics of your case, so that we can help you.
Penalties For a First DWI in Texas
If you have never been charged or convicted of a DWI, then your first DWI is considered a Class B misdemeanor (as long as there are no enhancements), and comes with possible penalties of a fine of up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, and a license suspension of between 3 months and 1 year depending on many different factors that we will be able to discuss one on one.
If you are charged with a DWI and your BAC is over .15, potential penalties increase. The charge is increased to a Class A misdemeanor, with fines of up to $4,000, a possible year in the county jail, and a license suspension of up to a year. There are other possible enhancements to a DWI charge, such as being in possession of an open container, possession of controlled substances, operating without a driver’s license, and many other violations that can dictate harsher punishments.
Penalties For a Second DWI in Texas
A second DWI, without any enhancements, is considered a Class A misdemeanor, and as such, it comes with harsher punishments than a first DWI conviction. In addition to increased fines of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to 1 year, you can also lose your license for 2 years.
As with a first DWI conviction, there are a variety of enhancements that can change the possible penalties and the degree of the charge depending on a variety of circumstances.
Penalties For a Third DWI in Texas
A third DWI charge is a third-degree felony charge, meaning that the penalties are increased, and the impacts that a conviction has on your life are much more extensive. With no enhancements or extraneous circumstances, a third DWI comes with possible penalties of up to $10,000 in fines, between 2 and 10 years in jail, served under the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and a license suspension of up to 2 years.
Enhancements to this charge can increase the felony charge to a second degree, or even first-degree felony depending on the factors. Additionally, you may be facing increases in possible jail time, fines, or a variety of other punishments.
Additional DWI Charges
After you have been convicted of a third DWI, or have a previous sentence in state jail, then the charges are increased even more. You will face the possibility of up to $10,000 in fines and 2 years of a suspended license, but depending on your criminal history you may face up to 25 years in jail and in some cases a life sentence.
License Suspensions After a DWI Arrest
In addition to the license suspensions that you will be subjected to if you are convicted of your DWI charges, there is additionally an automatic license revocation that will go into effect 40 days after your arrest. You will have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request an administrative license revocation hearing, where you will be able to appeal the automatic suspension. If your appeal is successful, then you will be able to retain your driving privileges until the end of your case, at which point the judge’s ruling determines whether or not you will keep your license.
What Happens During an Administrative License Revocation (“ALR”) Hearing?
When you appear for your ALR hearing, you will have an opportunity to contest the circumstances of your arrest in a civil process, meaning that we will go through the details of breathalyzer test (or refusal to submit to a test), as well as the reasons that the officer initially had to initiate a traffic stop, among other important factors of the arrest.
An ALR hearing is a civil, not a criminal case. The Texas Department of Public Safety will be handling the case and you will not be assigned a public defender. If you wish to have legal representation, which is strongly suggested, then you will need to hire your own.
The ALR hearing is just one example of how time-sensitive the process around your DWI charges are, and why it is highly recommended that you begin working with a San Antonio DWI defense attorney as soon as possible after you are arrested and charged. The more time that you have with your attorney before your trial begins, the more time your attorney will have to develop a strong defense and identify all possible options for a preferable outcome.
What To Do After Failing a Field Sobriety Test
In many cases, a DWI arrest will be preceded by a field sobriety test, in which the arresting officer will administer a battery of tests for a suspect to complete in order to determine whether or not they are in complete control of their mental and physical faculties. These tests are fundamentally flawed as there is no objective “pass/fail” since the officer is using their own judgment to determine whether or not the person has successfully completed the test.
There are many different factors that can impact the outcome of these tests, including things like possible physical disabilities, fear, nervousness, adrenaline, distractions on the road, weather, fatigue, and much more. In many cases, the officer may not even be qualified to conduct the tests or determine the outcomes.
As such, it is very important that the results of this exam are closely inspected, and each detail is questioned in order to diminish the role it plays in the overall case. In many cases, suspects may be wrongfully arrested after an officer misinterpreted the results, which is the first thing that we will explore during your case. If you were wrongfully arrested for DWI, then we will fight aggressively to have your charges overturned.
Breathalyzer and Blood Tests in Texas
Breathalyzer tests are common tools used by law enforcement officers in Texas during traffic stops where the driver is suspected of driving while intoxicated. The test is administered by the suspect blowing into a handheld device, which will then report back an estimate of the suspect’s blood alcohol content. If the breathalyzer reads higher than .08, then they are likely to be arrested for DWI.
Refusing a Breathalyzer
When an officer asks you to submit to a breathalyzer test, you are legally able to refuse but must be aware of the possible consequences of this decision. When you refuse to take the test, the officer may then request a warrant from a judge to obtain a sample of your blood for analysis, which gives very accurate results for determining BAC.
When you are issued a driver’s license in Texas, you enter an agreement with the state known as “implied consent,” meaning that while you are granted the privilege of driving you are implying that you consent to submit to a breath or blood test. When you refuse to submit to a test after an officer has requested that you take one, your license will automatically be suspended for 180 days, regardless of the outcome of your criminal case.
Taking or Refusing a Blood Test
If you refuse a breathalyzer test, the officer may contact a judge and request a warrant to take a blood sample. After a warrant has been granted, it is in your best interest to allow the officer to get a blood sample, as they legally have the right to collect the sample at this point. If you believe that the warrant was issued under false pretenses, or that there are other issues in the process, then we will deal with them after your arrest and fight to have the evidence suppressed.
Remember that you will have the support of an experienced DWI attorney after your arrest is finished and your charges have been made official. Resisting arrest will only complicate matters, and could ultimately lead to enhanced charges that will make your case more difficult to defend against.
Contact Us Today
The most important thing to do after you have been arrested for DWI in Texas is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who is ready and willing to take your case. There are many different options available to us to build a strong defense and move towards a favorable outcome, but none of these steps can happen if you do not first contact us about your case.
Call now to schedule an initial consultation, where you will be able to speak directly with our team about your situation, and we can explain our process in greater detail to you. We have a history of success defending against DWI charges in Texas, and we will be happy to put this experience into your own case.