Driving While Intoxicated
Driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is a serious charge that comes with significant penalties if you are convicted. Police have the task of enforcing DWI laws and ensuring the safety of the public. If you are convicted of DWI, you might face punishments that include a jail sentence, fines, license suspension, as well as probation. A conviction may also take its toll on many aspects of your life, such as your family, your job, your employment, your education, and more. If you were charged with DWI, you will want to fight the matter with assistance from an experienced DWI attorney.
What is DWI?
DWI, driving while intoxicated, is defined as the operation of a motor vehicle while impaired. The legal limit in Texas is 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration). Texas Penal Code defines intoxication as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance in the body.” Therefore, you can be charged with DWI if you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher or impairment due to other substances.
Understanding Texas Implied Consent
Texas law, like other states, has an implied consent law. When a person obtains a driver’s license, they agree to certain stipulations, including the consent to participate in a test to determine blood alcohol concentration. This means that a driver arrested for DWI must comply with the request of law enforcement to take a chemical test for purposes of determining BAC.
If you refuse the test, your license could be automatically suspended. Under the “no refusal” program, law enforcement may request a search warrant to require a BAC test if a driver refuses to consent. Implied consent does not require you to take part in preliminary roadside tests; however, your refusal could still result in arrest for suspected DWI.
Underage Driving Under the Influence
You may also have heard the term “DUI,” driving under the influence. In Texas, DUI is basically the same thing as DWI but applies to people under the age of 21. Minors are not allowed to consume alcohol. A minor can be charged with DUI if they have any amount of alcohol in their system. There is no need for the state to prove a BAC of 0.08 or higher in the case of a minor. Generally, a DUI charge is a Class C misdemeanor. A high BAC or the presence of other substances can raise the charge to DWI for some minors who are 17 or over.
Is DWI a Misdemeanor?
Generally, a first offense of driving while intoxicated is charged as a Class B misdemeanor. However, there are some circumstances that elevate the charges. DWI, while you have a minor child under the age of 15 in the vehicle, is a felony in Texas. If this is your second DWI, it will be a Class A misdemeanor. A third DWI is a felony. If you hurt someone while you are DWI, it will result in a third-degree felony charge. If a fatality occurs as the result of DWI, it is called intoxication manslaughter and is a second-degree felony. It is important to note that DWI charges can apply to the operation of any motor vehicle, including watercraft.
Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated
The penalties for DWI are severe. For a first-time DWI conviction, you must spend at least 72 hours in jail. If you also had an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, you will spend at least six days in jail. In addition, a first DWI comes with the suspension of your driver’s license for 90 days to a year. You must also pay fines of up to $2,000. You will also have to comply with an order to attend alcohol abuse education classes and spend time taking part in community service. You will also be put on probation for some time.
If this is your second DWI, the fines typically double. You will also face a jail sentence of up to a year and suspension of your driver’s license for up to 18 months. If convicted of felony DWI, the punishments increase further. This includes a jail sentence of up to 10 years or up to 20 years for manslaughter. Fines could reach up to $10,000, and your license could be suspended or revoked. You will want to discuss the charges and potential penalties with an experienced DWI attorney.
Defending Driving While Intoxicated in Texas
The penalties for a DWI conviction will also have a negative impact on your life for years to come. It is critical that you defend the charges. A knowledgeable DWI attorney understands the best ways to defend these charges and will work hard to resolve your case. If any mistakes were made during your arrest or BAC testing, your lawyer will request that the results be kept out of evidence.
In some cases, if your BAC was close to the limit or when evidence is not strong, it may be possible to reduce or dismiss at least some of the charges. Your lawyer will also assist if you need to request limited driving privileges. It is best to talk to an attorney immediately at the time of your arrest. Your lawyer will help you with the legal process and guide you through your options to ensure the best results.
There are many ways to defend DWI charges or to get charges reduced or dismissed. Sometimes it may be possible to accept a plea bargain, depending on the details of your case. It is also critical to present the court with mitigating factors should you be found guilty. These factors can help to keep penalties on the lower side of the sentencing guidelines.
Driving while intoxicated charges are serious, and you need help from a strong, experienced Brownsville, TX, DWI attorney. Contact our skilled legal team at Sosa Law at (956) 621-1277 to discuss your case today.