Driving While Intoxicated
San Antonio DWI Lawyer
Being stopped on a Texas roadway is frightening enough and when you are told you are facing DWI charges, you may be uncertain as to what steps you need to take to protect your rights. One of the first things we encourage you to do is refuse to take a breathalyzer test at the scene of the stop, despite implied consent in Texas. However, even if you have taken the breath test, you still need to contact a San Antonio DWI attorney immediately.
Steps to Take Following a DWI Stop
When you are stopped for a DWI, you will be asked for your driver’s license and registration information. Beyond providing your name and address, you need not answer any additional questions without having the benefit of speaking with your attorney first. Remember, if the officer asks where you have been or if you have been drinking, those answers will go into their report. That information may be used against you later to convict you of the charges. Before you answer any questions, contact a San Antonio DWI attorney.
Field Sobriety and Breathalyzer Tests
The police may ask you to submit to field sobriety tests as well as breathalyzer tests. Neither test method is particularly reliable due to various reasons. Field sobriety tests can provide false information if you have any physical problems with your back, legs or balance. Breathalyzer tests can be faulty because the machine is not properly calibrated or because the operator is not properly trained. Breathalyzer results can also be impacted by medication, fevers, and diet as well – making them less than perfect.
Administrative License Revocation
In many cases, your license will be seized at the time of arrest. In Texas, you only have 15 days to request an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing. These hearings allow your lawyer to question the arresting officer and fight to get your driving rights restored.
Facing San Antonio DWI Charges
DWI charges are enumerated in Texas Penal Code §49.04 which provides that anyone operating a vehicle must not be under the influence. It is important to be aware this does not apply only to alcohol, but to anything that impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. You can face DWI charges in Texas if you are found to be operating a car under the influence of alcohol or any type of drug that causes an impairment.
Remember, the penalties for a DWI increase if you have been previously convicted of a DWI offense. In Texas, this applies to out of state convictions as well. We can help you fight back against these charges including:
charges First time
- Second DWI
- Third DWI
- Felony DWI
- DUI by a Minor
- Charges with Multiple DWI Convictions
- Commercial driver DWI
- DWI with a minor child
- DWI with a failed breathalyzer
- DWI administrative hearings
A DWI arrest means you are facing an administrative hearing as well as a criminal hearing. You should strongly consider working with a San Antonio DWI lawyer who will represent you aggressively during this process. These are serious charges and you need to take immediate action to protect yourself from the serious penalties you could be facing. Contact our office to get started today.
First Offense DWI in Texas: Penalties and Your Legal Rights
Many of us go our entire lives without interaction with law enforcement officers unless it is because of a traffic stop. These traffic stops can result in you facing a criminal record and you facing charges of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas. Unfortunately, most people do not understand their rights when stopped for a DWI nor do they understand the possible outcomes of a first-time charge in Texas. That means you need information understanding the criminal charges you are facing and you also need to understand the other possible problems you can face if you are convicted of a DWI.
The Basics – What You May Not Know
Texas Penal Code §49.04 states that any driver who operates a motor vehicle in Texas must do so unimpaired by alcohol or other substance. Blood tests or breathalyzer tests may be conducted to determine if your blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit of .08. Should law enforcement either get a reading of greater than .08 or they believe you are otherwise impaired, you could be facing a criminal charge.
A first-time DWI charge in Texas is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense. You need to contact a Bexar County DWI attorney immediately upon being told you are facing charges. Many arrests result in two possible hearings, one an administrative license revocation hearing where the fate of your driving rights are on the line and the other is a criminal proceeding where you are facing criminal charges which will follow you for years to come.
Possible Penalties for First-Time DWI Convictions
Texas law classifies a first-time DWI as a Class B misdemeanor charge. Because of minimum sentencing requirements, the courts may have to impose specific penalties including:
- Fines of up to $2,000
- Up to two years of community supervision or probation
- At least 72 hours in county jail (can be up to six months)
- At least 24 hours of community service (can be up to 100 hours)
The court may also require anyone convicted to participate in a DWI Education Class within six months of conviction and may also require those convicted to complete a Victim Impact Panel. In some cases, during the probationary period, those convicted must report or seek authorization to change employment or residence, report to a probation officer monthly and provide proof of any special conditions imposed by the court. Those who are on probation may also be required to pay court costs, supervision fees and specific fines. These fees are in addition to any additional costs you are facing to maintain your license.
Your Legal Rights After a First-Time DWI
Even a first-time conviction carries serious consequences. You need to contact an experienced Bexar CountyDWI attorney to ensure you have someone who can help fight for your rights and do everything possible to avoid conviction.
Every drunk driving stop is different – remember, an attorney will ask you about specifics including what led up to the stop, why the officer told you he was stopping you and whether you submitted to a breath test. There will be numerous factors that will play a role in how your attorney defends you in court. Remember, just because you have been stopped and are facing charges does not mean you are automatically guilty. An experienced Texas DWI attorney will look at all aspects of the stop, any results of chemical testing you submitted to and help determine the best possible way to defend you in court. Call an attorney immediately, the consequences of a first-time conviction are serious and a conviction will also mean that a second DWI stop could mean more serious penalties.
Second Offense DWI in Texas: Penalties and Your Legal Rights
Texas drivers are often shocked to find they are facing 2nd DWI charges when they have never faced a DWI charge in Texas. However, that is because many residents are unaware Texas is part of a group of states who participate in the Driver’s License Compact (DLC). This means if you are convicted of a DWI in any state, you may still face penalties in Texas. Only five states, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin are not part of the DLC. What this means is the other states will report a DWI conviction to Texas and the result is a first-time arrest in Texas for DWI could result in your being charged as a second-time offender.
Following a 2nd DWI Arrest
Your best defense after being arrested for DWI in Texas is to reach out to an experienced Texas DWI attorney. This is important because the penalties are serious and you need someone who understands the laws and how they may apply in your case.
As part of the traffic stop, you may be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test or other roadside sobriety tests. In most cases, it is advisable to refuse these tests. However, whether you have refused or you have taken the test and failed, you still are not automatically going to be found guilty. Regardless, you need to work with a Texas DWI attorney as quickly as possible because the prosecutor will go after you aggressively and your attorney will be able to help you mount a defense.
DWI Conviction Possible Penalties
When you are facing a DWI charge, it is necessary you understand the possible penalties you could be facing. A 2nd DWI conviction is prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor charge and you could be facing the following penalties:
- Fines of up to $4,000
- Between one month and one year in jail
- Driver license loss for up to two years
- Fees assessed against your license of up to $2,000 for three years to maintain your license
- A special ignition device if your conviction is within five years of a prior conviction
Because Texas also has minimum sentencing requirements for DWI, you could also be facing two years of community service, a minimum six months’ suspension of your license, drug and alcohol treatment and participation in a Victim Impact Panel. There may be other conditions imposed by the court which could impact your employment and living situations during any time you are on probation as well.
Do Not Ignore These Charges
It is imperative you do not ignore a 2nd DWI charge or take the charges lightly. You need to work with a skilled DWI attorney who will investigate all aspects of the charges beginning with the reason for the stop, any questions you responded to during the stop and any comments you may have made during any interrogation.
In most cases, the sooner you can contact an attorney after a stop the better off you will be in the long run. However, we also know that most people are confused and uncertain as to their rights and may simply answer questions that are asked of them without giving any thought to the potential repercussions. We will discuss these matters with you when we discuss the charges against you and the problems you could be facing after a DWI arrest.
Administrative Hearings After a DWI Arrest
Even if you are facing charges of a 2nd DWI in Texas, you will be expected to attend an administrative hearing to preserve your driving rights. It is important to remember there is a limited time, 15 days, to request this hearing and you have the right to be represented by a DWI attorney at the hearing.
Remember, chances are high that your license will be taken from you at the time of your DWI arrest and you will be issued a 40 days’ permit to drive. The hearing is to determine whether you will retain your ability to drive after the 40 days is over and does not have an impact on the criminal charges you are facing. This will be your attorney’s first opportunity to dispute the stop, whether the officer had a reasonable belief you were intoxicated and if to dispute the findings of a failed BAC.
Despite the implied consent laws in Texas, we nearly always recommend not taking a breathalyzer test. First, failure allows the state to have evidence against you if you failed the test and secondarily, these tests are often inaccurate. The better option is to refuse the test and allow your attorney to fight the charges against you. Even a failed BAC does not always mean you will be found guilty. As we have discussed previously, the breathalyzer tests are not always accurate.
If you are facing a 2nd charge in Texas, call our office immediately. We will fight hard to preserve your right to drive as well as fight the charges against you aggressively. Do not let these charges go uncontested, call us today and let us help.
Third Offense DWI in Texas: Penalties and Your Legal Rights
During 2015, there were nearly 25,000 vehicle accidents occurring on Texas roadways that involved alcohol. This has made prosecutors more aggressive in pursuing charges against those who have had a prior DWI charge. Because of this, in many cases, someone who is facing a 3rd charge could be facing a felony charge, even if there was no accident and no one suffered an injury. These charges must be taken seriously and you need a skilled DWI attorney who will fight the charges and help you preserve your rights to drive.
Multiple State Convictions
As we previously discussed, Texas is one of the 45 states that participate in the Driver’s License Compact (DLC). This means even if one (or more) of your DWI convictions occurred out of state, you could still be facing the maximum penalties for a 3rd DWI stop in Texas. The bottom line is, you need an attorney who will review all aspects of your case, understand the circumstances of the stop and work with you to fight the current charges you are facing.
Felony DWI Charges in Texas
A felony DWI charge can cost you thousands of dollars in court costs, result in jail time and have an impact on your future ability to secure housing, employment, and even student loans. The sooner you work with a DWI attorney after your arrest, the more likely you are to be able to present a strong defense. Some of the penalties you could face per the minimum requirements in Texas include:
- You may be facing a fine of up to $10,000
- You could face prison time of between two and ten years
- You could lose your license for up to two years
- If you can retain your license, you could be paying up to $2,000 a year for up to three years
- The court could order probation for up to two years
- The court may order community service of up to 600 hours
- It is highly likely you will be forced to place an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle if you are given a provisional license
Criminal Record Expungement
Keep in mind, while some criminal charges may be expunged, a DWI conviction is not eligible for this type of relief. This means all job applications, applications for loans and background checks for the rest of your life will reflect a felony if you are convicted of these charges. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help get these charges dismissed so they do not negatively impact your future.
Sealing Your Record
As of September 1, 2017 DWI convictions are eligible to be sealed through an order of nondisclosure. However, there are many criteria that need to be met, and this option is usually available for first-time DWI convictions.
3rd DWI and Breathalyzer Tests
We seldom recommend a person stopped for suspicion of a DWI take a breathalyzer test. This is despite the fact Texas has an implied consent rule and may result in your license being taken at the scene. One reason for this is the breath tests can be faulty and result in a false fail reading and the other reason is a failed test could mean the prosecutor has more evidence to use against you. Remember, if you fail a test or refuse a test, the arresting officer may seize your license at the scene and issue you a temporary permit which means you must request an administrative hearing within 15 days. This will be the first time your DWI attorney may dispute the charges against you.
Administrative Hearings vs. Criminal Proceedings
The administrative hearing allows your attorney an opportunity to question the arresting officer. Typically, this will involve questioning the reason for the initial stop, what led the officer to determine you may be intoxicated and the information they provided you regarding breathalyzer tests and if you were properly informed of the penalties of refusal. The outcome of this hearing will have no bearing on the criminal charges against you but the information your attorney gains from the arresting officer may be used in your defense. Your DWI attorney will discuss the hearing, what the process is and what the possible outcomes are based on the circumstances of your stop and arrest.
The criminal proceedings are handled for the state by a prosecutor and your attorney will again have a chance to question the arresting officer. If you submitted to a breathalyzer test, your attorney will likely question the results of the test, the machine calibration and the training the officer received pertaining to the operation of the breathalyzer.
While no DWI stop and arrest should be taken lightly, a 3rd DWI arrest should be taken very seriously, even if there was no accident involved. Contact a DWI attorney in San Antonio immediately after your arrest because the sooner we can get to work to determine all the aspects of the stop and arrest, the more likely we are to be able to have the charges against you dismissed or minimized. Call us immediately to preserve your freedom as well as your driving rights.
Fill out the form to get started with your free evaluation of your San Antonio DWI case.