Answers To Your DWI Questions
When you have been pulled over for driving while under the influence, choosing a criminal defense attorney is one of the most important decisions you will make in your case. Whether you have been accused of a crime or are simply being investigated, your rights and freedom are in jeopardy. It is important to have the counsel of an experienced DWI defense lawyer as early as possible.
What is a DWI?
DWI is defined as the operation of a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. You are deemed intoxicated if you do not have normal use of your mental and/or physical facilities because your blood alcohol content is at least 0.08 or there is otherwise evidence of alcohol or drugs in your body.
The definition of intoxication is typically the most contested issue in a DWI trial. Our trial lawyers know how to cross-examine the state’s witnesses and scrutinize the evidence on this technical issue.
In addition to a breath or blood test, the officers are trained to ask you and sometimes try to make you perform field sobriety tests. You have the right to refuse the breath and/or blood test and any field sobriety tests. You can be assured that the officer will have an in-car video recorder that will videotape you. Anything you do or say can be used against you in court. The field sobriety tests have not been found to be accurate determinations of intoxication. Many factors can cause a person to “fail” these standardized tests, which must be administered as stated in the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration manual. We will scrutinize these procedures as performed in your arrest.
What is the punishment for a DWI conviction?
- First DWI offense: Class B misdemeanor, three to 180 days in county jail, $0-$2,000 fine
- First DWI with a BAC of 0.15 or greater: Class A misdemeanor, zero to 365 days in county jail, $0-4,000 fine
- Second DWI offense: Class A misdemeanor, 30 to 365 days in county jail, $0-$4,000 fine
- Third or higher DWI offense: third-degree felony, two to 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections (prison), $0-$10,000 fine
If given the option of probation for any level of DWI offense, there will be several conditions. These may include an interlock device on your vehicle, community service, monthly reporting, monthly fees, a DWI education class, a victim-impact panel, a drug or alcohol evaluation, random drug or alcohol testing, and additional fines.
What is the walk-and-turn test?
The WAT is a divided attention test consisting of two stages: instruction stage and walking stage. In the instruction stage, the subject must stand with their feet in heel-to-toe position, keep their arms at their sides, and listen to instructions. The subject must maintain the heel-to-toe position and may not begin walking until all instructions are given. In the walking stage, the subject takes nine heel-to-toe steps, turns in a prescribed manner, and takes nine heel-to-toe steps back, while counting out loud and watching their feet. Officers observe the subject’s performance for eight clues:
- Can’t balance during instructions
- Starts too soon
- Stops while walking
- Doesn’t touch heel to toe
- Steps off line
- Uses arms for balance
- Loses balance on turn or turns incorrectly
- Takes the wrong number of steps
A subject who exhibits two or more clues will fail the test. Scoring is entirely subjective and within the officer’s discretion.
What is the difference between breath test and chemical test results?
Under Texas law, an individual is legally intoxicated if his/her blood alcohol content is .08 or greater. This can be determined by testing the blood, urine or breath, and it measures the number of grams of alcohol per:
- 210 liters of breath
- 100 milliliters of blood
- 67 milliliters of urine
Blood testing is generally considered to be the most reliable and accurate, while urine tests are regarded as the least precise. If you are arrested for a DWI in Texas, you will most likely be asked to give a sample of your breath. Breath testing is the most commonly utilized method because it is the least expensive to administer. The scientific community is sharply divided over the accuracy and reliability of breath testing procedures. The police do not save the sample of breath tested. Thus, it is not available for re-testing by an independent laboratory.
What will happen to my driver’s license after a DWI arrest?
If you fail a breath and/or blood test, your driver’s license may be suspended for 90 days assuming you do not win your Administrative License Revocation hearing. If you refuse to provide a breath and/or blood test, your driver’s license may be suspended for 180 days if you do not win your ALR hearing.
What is an ALR Hearing?
Within 15 days of the time you were served with a notice of suspension, you must request a hearing to contest your license suspension. When you hire our firm for your DWI, we will also aggressively defend you during the ALR hearing by questioning the arresting officer at the hearing to save your license from being suspended. However, if your license is suspended, you may be granted an occupational license which allows you to drive to places such as work, school or the grocery store. If you do not request a hearing, the suspension will go into effect 40 days from the date the notice was sent. A fee of $125 will be charged to reinstate the license after the suspension period expires.
What do I do if I do not own a car and need to drive after a DWI?
While public transportation in Texas offers a variety of choices, driving is usually the fastest way to get around. If you anticipate needing to drive a car after a DWI conviction, you could explore the option of asking the court about obtaining a portable alcohol monitoring device (PAM). Connected directly to the court’s monitoring system, this hand held electronic device measures the alcohol in your breath through out the day. Each county has specific compliance factors for the using the PAM, which could be court-ordered anywhere from two months to up to a year after a conviction. Sometimes, it is a requirement for pretrial diversion, a bond condition, plea bargain or probation. Call Hildreth & Rueda to discuss your range of alternatives. We can help you pursue the course of action that is in your best interests.
Contact Our Experienced DWI Lawyers
Most DWI attorneys start talking about a plea bargain at the first meeting. Few attorneys actually take DWI cases to trial before a judge, and even fewer have tried DWI cases to a jury. The experienced DWI defense attorneys at Hildreth & Rueda, in Austin, prepare every case as if it were going to trial.