“They’ve got the goods on me. Why fight a DWI charge?”
After failing a field sobriety test and ending up in jail, many Texas drivers might feel their best option is to let the chips fall where they may. After all, the police have “proof” that your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit of 0.08%, right?
Wrong. You should always fight a DWI charge. The “proof” that the authorities purport to have against you may have been improperly obtained or administered and therefore could be excluded as evidence. Many other factors can weigh in your favor. Remember, life as you know it — both professionally and personally — is on the line if you are convicted.
If you’re facing a DWI charge in or around Bryan, Texas, or nearby in College Station, Brenham, Anderson, Madisonville, or throughout Brazos Valley, contact me at Rick Davis & Associates. As a former judge, I have presided over many DWI cases, and as an attorney, I have represented hundreds of others like you facing a potentially life-changing charge. I will fight for your rights and for the best possible outcome in your case.
Texas DWI Laws & Penalties
Texas Penal Code Section 49.045 states, “A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place,” which is “a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours.” The penalty rises to six days in jail if an open container of alcohol is found in the vehicle.
Intoxication, and therefore a DWI, is often based not just on the use of alcohol, but can also be based on marijuana or other controlled substances or even prescription drugs in your system.
The most common type of a DWI arrest involves the police pulling you over because of the way you were driving, administering a field sobriety test using a breathalyzer — known as an Intoxilyzer in Texas — and placing you under arrest.
In addition to possibly spending time in jail, you face a fine of up to $2,000 and a driver's license suspension of 90 days to 12 months (depending on the circumstances). If your license is suspended and you wish to obtain an occupational or essential needs driver's license to drive to and from work, an ignition interlock device (IID), which requires you to pass a breath test to start your vehicle, would likely have to be installed on your vehicle.
Penalties for DWI increase if you have an open container in your vehicle, if your blood alcohol contact is 0.15% or higher, if you have previous DWIs on your record, if a child is in the vehicle with you at the time of the arrest, or if you injure someone while driving intoxicated.
Depending on whether yours is a first-time, Class B misdemeanor offense, or is a repeat or DWI aggravated offense, you may suffer what are sometimes called collateral penalties because a conviction could stay on your record permanently. These collateral consequences might include:
Having to change your daily routine and forego visits to friends and making other excursions to which you are accustomed to making
Having your insurance revoked or facing higher insurance premiums and possibly facing restrictions to get your auto insurance reinstated
Facing severe obstacles in finding employment, especially with careers that require security clearances or professional licensing
Finding it hard to provide for your family and maintain custody of your children because of the limits on your employment opportunities
Facing obstacles in obtaining loans for education or homes, or even applying to rent a house or apartment
Being unable to purchase or possess firearms (if convicted of a felony)
Being prohibited from voting (if you are convicted of a felony)
Possible Defenses Against a DWI Charge
Many people pulled over and charged with a first-time DWI might figure there’s very little that they can do to get the case dismissed or the possible penalties reduced, but there are legitimate defense strategies that have worked for many of our clients in the past.
First off, for the police to pull you over, they must have reasonable suspicion to stop you. Before they arrest you, they have to have probable cause to believe that you committed an offense. Both can be challenged in court by a skilled attorney.
As for administering the breath test, the police must abide by certain standards and procedures. An inexperienced Intoxilyzer operator may not fully understand the required steps. Even a seasoned veteran can make mistakes. The Intoxilyzer itself must also be properly maintained and calibrated. These are additional factors that can be challenged.
Even if you refused the breath test and ended up taking a blood test pursuant to a warrant, those results, too, can sometimes be challenged on grounds of lack of proper chain of custody. Somewhere during the handling and transfer of the blood vial, the sample may have been contaminated or tainted. This is another area that can be challenged.
If enough doubt can be cast on these types of evidence and police procedures — including examining the police reports to spot irregularities — then your attorney can move to have the evidence suppressed. Your attorney can also seek to exclude witness testimony because of improper procedures, including the testimony of police officers.
Remember, a DWI starts with an opinion (that of the arresting officer) and also ends with an opinion (that of the judge or jury). Opinions can be challenged and minds can be changed. With so much at stake, you need the best legal representation you can find. Your life may never be the same if you just accept a conviction that you should not have accepted, and pleading guilty is no guarantee the judge will go light on you.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
I’ve outlined above both the consequences you face if you’re convicted and the strategies available to you and your lawyer to challenge the evidence and testimony arrayed against you in court. I am ready to fight for your rights and develop a solid strategy to obtain the best possible result in your case.
As an experienced DWI judge, and now a DWI defense attorney, I possess a powerful combination of experience and knowledge to help you in your legal fight.
If you’re in or near Bryan, Texas, or in the counties of Washington, Grimes, Burleson, or Madison, contact me at Rick Davis & Associates. Let me help you get started on your DWI defense.