Texas Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Defense Lawyers
Texas is tough on drivers who are convicted of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). In addition to jail time, substantial fines, and loss of driving privileges, a DWI can have an impact on employment and insurance premiums. Representation by an experienced Texas DWI defense lawyer at the Buckley Law Group provides the accused with the best chance of avoiding or minimizing the drastic consequences of a DWI conviction.
TEXAS DWI ARRESTS
Even a driver who does not feel impaired and is driving carefully can be arrested for DWI. A breath test showing a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher is all an officer needs to make an arrest.
Depending on the driver’s weight, gender, stomach contents, and other factors, two or three beers may be enough to reach the 0.08% limit. Many people think it is “safe” to have one drink per hour, but the size and alcohol content of drinks varies, as do the other factors that determine blood alcohol concentration. Counting drinks and feeling sober are no guarantee that a driver will not be arrested when an officer smells the odor of an intoxicant on the driver’s breath.
While Texas does not allow police departments to establish arrest quotas, police officers understand that the way to earn promotions and favorable performance reviews is to write tickets and make arrests. Given public pressure by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, police officers are aggressive about making Texas DWI arrests, even if the evidence in support of the arrest is questionable.
DWI PENALTIES IN TEXAS
The penalties for a DWI in Texas depend on the number of prior convictions, if any, that the driver has for a DWI-related offense. Here are some examples:
|Offense||Fine||Jail Sentence||License Suspension||Surcharge|
|First||Up to $2,000||3-180 days||Up to 1 year||Up to $2,000|
|Second||Up to $4,000||1-12 Months||Up to 2 years||Up to $2,000|
|Third||$10,000||2-10 years||Up to 2 years||Up to $2,000|
The penalties shown above only tell part of the story. Court costs are assessed in addition to fines. The surcharge to retain a driver’s license after driving privileges are reinstated is an annual fee that continues for three years.
When two or more convictions occur with a five-year period, the court will condition future driving privileges on the installation of an ignition interlock device. The device prevents a car from starting if a breath test detects the presence of alcohol. It must be installed and maintained at the driver’s expense.
Insurance rates are often astronomical for drivers who have DWI convictions. Drivers may also be required to attend and pay for a DWI education or intervention program.
Commercial drivers face the loss of their commercial driver’s license (CDL) if they are convicted. That means the end of employment for drivers who need a CDL.
For many people, jail sentences or a license suspension can also lead to the loss of employment or the preclusion of future employment. Conviction of a third offense (and certain other DWI offenses) is a felony, resulting in a lifetime loss of the right to possess a firearm or ammunition as well as the loss of other valuable civil rights.
The consequences of a conviction can be even more drastic if:
- A passenger under the age of 15 was in the car
- The driver refused to take a test
- The driver’s blood alcohol content was above 0.15%
- The driver was in an accident
- The driver caused a serious injury or death while DWI
Facing the harsh potential consequences of a conviction, arrested drivers turn to the experienced DWI defense lawyers at the Buckley Law Group for help.
REFUSING A BREATH OR BLOOD TEST
Even if a driver refuses to submit to a test or, for some other reason, the police are unable to obtain a valid test result, a prosecutor may try to prove DWI by presenting evidence that the driver consumed alcohol and drove erratically. Those cases require the prosecution to prove that the driver was “impaired,” which is often a matter of opinion in the absence of a chemical test.
Refusing to take a breath or blood test when requested can, however, lead to an automatic driver’s license suspension. Fortunately, drivers have the right to contest that suspension before it takes effect.
Retaining a lawyer immediately is the key to defeating an automatic suspension. Waiting too long to request a hearing can lead to a suspension by default. Delaying the suspension can be important for drivers who need time to make alternative transportation arrangements. In many cases, an aggressive defense can cause the suspension to be lifted.
WHAT A DWI ATTORNEY CAN DO FOR YOU
A skilled DWI defense lawyer will examine every aspect of the driver’s encounter with the police, in addition to all of the available evidence, and will mount aggressive challenges on multiple fronts. The defense might include:
- Challenging the officer’s authority to stop the driver’s vehicle
- Challenging the officer’s incorrect administration of field sobriety tests
- Challenging the validity of a preliminary breath test
- Challenging the officer’s assessment of probable cause to arrest
- Challenging the credibility of the officer’s testimony
- Questioning whether the officer followed correct procedures in administering a breath or blood test
- Challenging the validity of the breath or blood test result
- Challenging any unreasonable delay in administering a breath or blood test
- Questioning whether the driver’s blood alcohol content was higher when the test was taken than it was at the time of driving
- Raising a doubt as to whether the arrested person was driving
Many of these defenses are raised in pretrial motions that, if successful, lead to dismissal of the charge prior to trial. Other defenses are raised at trial. In some cases, the existence of a strong defense will persuade a prosecutor to negotiate for a result that does not involve a DWI conviction.
As a last resort, when no defense is likely to prevail or when the arrested driver does not want to contest the charge, an experienced Texas DWI defense attorney will be an advocate for minimal penalties. In first offense cases when a driver has a good record, it may be possible to substitute probation for jail time.
BUCKLEY LAW GROUP – DWI REPRESENTATION
A successful DWI defense in Texas requires a thorough understanding of the science underlying breath and blood tests, up-to-the-minute knowledge of court decisions in DWI cases, the ability to craft creative legal arguments, skillful cross-examination, experience with Texas judges and juries, and thorough preparation.
The DWI defense attorneys at the Buckley Law Group have the knowledge, experience, creativity, skill, and diligence that drivers need when they have been arrested for a Texas DWI. To learn how we can help you, contact the Buckley Law Group at our convenient offices in Fort Worth or Houston.