What Next: You’ve Been Charged with a DUI/DWI in Texas

DWI in Texas

Getting charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in Texas can be a daunting experience, especially if it's your first time. These charges are considered criminal charges, which can mean serious consequences upon conviction. Furthermore, these charges can have serious civil penalties ranging in the thousands of dollars Understanding the process, potential consequences, and your rights is crucial for navigating this challenging situation.

Immediate Steps After Being Pulled Over for a DUI/DWI

Facing a DUI/DWI charge in Texas can be overwhelming, but understanding the laws, penalties, and defense options can help you manage the situation more effectively. An experienced DUI/DWI criminal defense attorney can help you take preventative measures to improve your situation and protect your rights and your freedom.

If you are stopped on suspicion of a DUI/DWI, take the following steps to protect your interests:

  • Stay calm: Being respectful of law enforcement can help your case.
  • Decline SFSTs: Politely decline standard field sobriety tests (SFSTs).
  • Document everything: Record details about the traffic stop, arrest, and any interactions with officers.
  • Contact an attorney: Seek legal counsel immediately to guide you through the process.
  • Follow legal advice: Follow all legal requirements and court orders to avoid additional penalties.

Hiring an experienced DUI/DWI attorney is crucial. An experienced DWI lawyer can help you understand your rights, the charges against you, and possible defense strategies.

Understanding What Constitutes a DUI/DWI in Texas

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is taken very seriously in Texas. The state has stringent laws and penalties in place to deter impaired driving and ensure public safety. It's important to familiarize yourself with these laws to better understand the charges and how to respond.

In Texas, a DUI and a DWI are distinct offenses, primarily differentiated by the age of the driver:

  • DUI (Driving Under the Influence): This charge typically applies to minors (under 21 years) who are found to have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system while operating a vehicle.
  • DWI (Driving While Intoxicated): This is applied to adults (21 years and older) and involves driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher or being impaired due to alcohol or drugs regardless of BAC.
  • In more technical terms, the Texas Penal Code defines "Intoxicated" as:
    • (A) not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or
    • (B) having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

Regarding legal limits and testing, Texas law enforcement officers use various tests to determine impairment, including:

  • Breathalyzer test: Measures BAC from a breath sample.
  • Blood test: Measures BAC directly from a blood sample.
  • Field sobriety tests: Physical tasks designed to assess coordination and impairment.

Refusal to take these tests can lead to immediate license suspension under Texas' "Implied Consent" law. Understanding the distinction between a DUI and a DWI, and being aware of the testing procedures, is essential for anyone facing these charges. It's crucial to know your legal limits and the potential consequences of refusing a test. Being informed can help you make better decisions and prepare for what lies ahead in the legal process.

Consequences of a DUI/DWI Charge

A DUI or DWI charge in Texas carries significant repercussions that can affect various areas of your life, ranging from your driving privileges to your financial stability. Being aware of the potential outcomes can help you prepare for the challenges that may arise.

Administrative Penalties

Upon a DUI/DWI charge, may face immediate administrative penalties such as:

  • License Suspension: Automatic suspension ranging from 90 days to 2 years.
  • Fines: Penalties can range from $500 to $10,000 depending on the severity of the offense and whether it's a repeat offense.

Criminal Penalties

If convicted, the criminal penalties can include:

  • Jail Time: First-time offenders can face up to 180 days in jail. Repeat offenders face longer sentences, and possibly felony charges depending on the nature of the charge and prior DWI convictions.
  • Probation: Instead of jail time, the court might impose probation with conditions like reporting to a probation officer, community service, and attending alcohol education (DWI education) and DWI victim impact panel classes.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID): First-time and repeat offenders may be required to install an IID in their vehicle at their expense.

Why You Need a DUI/DWI Criminal Defense Attorney

Texas has a reputation for aggressively prosecuting DUI and DWI cases, driven by a commitment to ensuring road safety. The state employs stringent measures and dedicated resources to deter impaired driving, including specialized task forces and frequent sobriety checkpoints. Prosecutors in Texas often seek the maximum penalties for those convicted. Given the rigorous pursuit of DUI/DWI cases, having a top criminal defense attorney is essential.

An experienced DUI/DWI attorney will help you navigate the complexities of the legal landscape.

Common defense strategies include:

  • Challenging the Stop: Arguing that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop.
  • Questioning Test Accuracy: Disputing the accuracy and administration of breath, blood, or field sobriety tests.
  • Proving Innocence: Proving that you were not impaired, or your BAC was below the legal limit, or filing the appropriate motions with the court to throw out evidence, which could be used against you.

Without proper legal representation, you risk facing the full brunt of Texas' severe penalties, which can have long-lasting implications on your life and livelihood, like not having certain job opportunities because of a DWI conviction. Securing a skilled, trusted, and experienced DUI/DWI attorney in your area not only offers you a robust defense but also provides peace of mind during this challenging time. Don’t take any chances when it comes to your rights and your freedom. Hire Ried Pecina Trial Lawyers and have a former prosecutor fight for you.

Call (956) 225-2509 today to schedule a consultation or contact our team online right now.