Every state prohibits intoxicated driving. Whether the crime is called “DUI” or “DWI” (driving while intoxicated) as it is called in Texas, the penalties can be harsh, even for a first offense. If you’re charged with DWI in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, take your case to a Dallas DWI lawyer.
More than 900 people died in alcohol-related traffic accidents in Texas in 2020. Thousands more were injured. Drivers in Texas know that anyone who is convicted for driving while intoxicated will face serious and extensive consequences, even if the conviction is for a first DWI offense.
Exactly how is driving while intoxicated defined in the State of Texas? What penalties may be imposed on convicted DWI offenders in our state? Will you need a lawyer’s advice and services if you are arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated?
Keep reading, because these questions will be answered in this brief discussion of DWI in Texas. You will also learn about the role of a DWI lawyer, and you will learn why anyone who is charged with DWI must be advised and represented by the right Dallas DWI defense attorney.
How is DWI Defined?
What constitutes DWI in Texas? According to the Texas Department of Transportation, “You are legally intoxicated in Texas when your blood alcohol concentration reaches 0.08%, but you are breaking the law as soon as drugs or alcohol affect your driving – or flying or boating – ability.”
Additionally, Texas drivers under the age of 21 who have any measurable blood alcohol concentration may be charged with driving while intoxicated, whether or not their driving is actually “impaired.”
What Are the Penalties for a DWI Conviction?
For first-time offenders (over age 21) who are convicted of misdemeanor DWI, a sentence may include:
- from three to 180 days in jail
- a $2,000 fine
- up to 100 community service hours
- a one-year driver’s license suspension
- a yearly driver’s license surcharge for the next three years
However, when someone below the age of 21 receives a first driving while intoxicated conviction, the sentence may include:
- a $500 fine
- a sixty-day driver’s license suspension
- forty community service hours
- a court-ordered alcohol education course
A conviction for a second misdemeanor driving while intoxicated offense may be penalized with a $4,000 fine, from one month to one year in jail, and a two-year driver’s license suspension.
When is DWI a Felony?
Third DWI offenses in Texas are charged as felonies. Convictions are punishable with a $10,000 fine, two to ten years in prison, and a two-year license suspension. However, in some situations, a first or second offense that involves intoxicated driving may also be charged as a felony.
If you injure someone because you were driving while intoxicated, it is a third-degree felony called intoxication assault. If someone is killed, the charge is intoxication manslaughter. A conviction on either charge may be penalized with two to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
If you were driving while intoxicated while a passenger under 15 years old was in the vehicle, the charge is driving while intoxicated with a child passenger, a felony punishable upon conviction with 180 days to two years behind bars and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you have served time in a Texas prison for any previous offense, a third or subsequent DWI offense is charged as a second-degree felony punishable upon conviction with two to twenty years in prison or – if there was more than one prior prison term – twenty-five years to life.
What Will Your Attorney Do on Your Behalf?
In Texas DWI cases, prosecutors often rely on field sobriety tests (FSTs), breathalyzer test results, and the testimony of the arresting officer. How can someone defend himself or herself against this kind of evidence?
Let an experienced Dallas DWI lawyer handle your driving while intoxicated case and examine the evidence against you. The right DWI attorney will explain how the law applies to your own situation, fight for justice on your behalf, and bring the matter to its best possible conclusion.
In some cases, a good DWI attorney may be able to have the charge against you quickly dropped or dismissed. But even if the evidence against you is overwhelming and your conviction is inevitable, the right lawyer can negotiate on your behalf for alternative or reduced sentencing.
Every driver in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who is charged with DWI should fight the charge with help from a Dallas DWI defense attorney, because FSTs are always questionable, and even with the best technology available, chemical testing for DWI is often inaccurate and unreliable.
Why Are Breathalyzer Devices Unreliable?
Breathalyzer devices are supposed to measure your blood alcohol content level based on the alcohol vapor in your breath, but alcohol and substances that breathalyzers may identify as alcohol are found in beverages, foods, drugs, breath fresheners, toothpastes, and mouthwashes.
Certain kinds of medical conditions can also distort a breathalyzer exam result. Gastrointestinal reflux disease, acid reflux, and heartburn can create acid in the mouth, esophagus, or stomach, and that acid can skew a breathalyzer test result.
Challenging the accuracy of breathalyzer results is one of the strategies that a Texas DWI attorney may use in your defense. Your lawyer may cast enough doubt on the results to convince jurors that the prosecutor has failed to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
What’s the Best Strategy?
The best advice for avoiding DWI trouble isn’t legal advice but plain common sense: Don’t Drink and Drive. Taxis, limos, and services like Uber and Lyft are available throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area “24/7/365.”
Even sleeping on a friend’s sofa or renting a room for the night is better than facing a DWI charge. It can’t be said strongly enough – do whatever it takes to avoid drinking and driving. Don’t let a driving while intoxicated conviction steal your freedom or wreck your future.
If you are placed under arrest and prosecuted for driving while intoxicated in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on the basis of a breathalyzer exam result or for any other reason, it is a serious legal matter. Take it seriously, and contact a DWI attorney as quickly as possible. Your future may depend on it.