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When you are charged with a DWI (driving while intoxicated), you can face serious consequences such as fines, jail time, and license suspension. But if your charge is incorrect, you shouldn’t have to face these penalties.
If you have been pulled over for driving while intoxicated, call Wilder Law Firm to work with a DWI Lawyer in Dallas County, TX and Collin County, TX. We will fight for you to ensure that you are not charged with a crime you did not commit.
What Counts as DWI?
DWI doesn’t only refer to driving drunk – it also refers to driving under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs that affect your ability to safely operate a vehicle. Even if you aren’t currently driving, you can be charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, such as if you pulled over to sleep off the effects.
You will be asked to take a field sobriety test. If you fail this test, you will likely be arrested. If you refuse to take this test, you may be arrested and compelled to undergo blood or urine testing. If these further tests show a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of 0.08%, you will be charged with DWI.
What Can You Do?
The process that an officer must follow to charge someone with a DWI needs to be followed carefully. If the arresting officer failed to follow proper procedures, you may have a way out of the DWI charge.
The DWI attorney services from Wilder Law Firm can ensure that you’re not wrongfully charged with DWI. We will ensure that the arresting officer followed all procedures, and we will gather evidence to prove your innocence.
If you need DWI attorney services in the Dallas Metro, TX, area, don’t hesitate to call Wilder Law Firm. You can reach us at 214-741-4000.
First DWI Offense
A first DWI offense is considered to be a Class B Misdemeanor with a fine up to $2,000, jail time ranging from 72 hours – 180 days, and license suspension for 90 – 365 days.
Second DWI Offense
A second DWI offense carries a much higher penalty and is raised to a Class A Misdemeanor. You could be fined up to $4,000, with jail time ranging from 30 – 365 days, and license suspension for 180 days – 2 years.
Third DWI Offense
A third DWI is considered to be a Third Degree felony with a fine up to $10,000, 2 – 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and license suspension for 180 days – 2 years.
To cause serious bodily injury to another person while operating a vehicle while intoxicated, whether it is by accident or mistake.
To cause the death of another person as a direct result of reckless behavior while intoxicated.
DWI With a Child
DWI when carrying a passenger under the age of 15 years of age is considered child endangerment. If the passenger is an adult, both can be charged if there is an open container in the vehicle. There are many scenarios.
DWI for CDL Licensed Drivers
In Texas, if you have a CDL license and are driving a commercial vehicle the blood alcohol content (BAC) level is set at 0.04% or above. This limit is not just set by the State of Texas but it is also set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
What Exactly Is Intoxication?
The Texas Penal Code defines Intoxication in three independent ways, and the prosecution is only required to prove one of the three ways beyond a reasonable doubt. Intoxication is defined as:
- not having the normal use of 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
- not having the normal use of mental 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
- having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
It is important to know that all three definitions of intoxication apply to the time of driving or operation of the vehicle.
What Does “Normal” Use Mean?
Normal does not mean perfection. Do you act the same way every day? Do you drive the same way every day? The Police and Prosecution, however, tend to equate normal with perfection. Field Sobriety Tests are designed to identify impairment. Thus, any thing you do wrong (not perfect) in a sobriety test will be taken as a sign of impairment (ie. not being normal). Have you ever made a wide right turn? People normally do that all the time but once you add alcohol to the mix, perfectly normal driving suddenly turns into non-normal, intoxicated driving.
Normal does not mean average. Some people are known to be above average, while others below. Average falls right in the middle. If your ability to handle stress and pressure falls below that of the average person, it would not be right or fair to hold you to higher standard. If you are not naturally coordinated, it would not be fair to hold you to a standard of a naturally coordinated person. Natural difficulty cannot be taken as a sign of intoxication.
When fighting DWI charges, your lawyer must be skilled in not only educating jurors as to the difficulty in defining what is normal, but having the jury educate the lawyer as to their perception of normal and how easy or difficult it is for them to define the concept of normal.
What If I Was Charged, But Was Not Driving The Vehicle?
If an individual is driving their car, they are operating it. But what happens when a person is not actually driving, and the car is in park? Is sitting in a parked car operating? Do the keys have to be in the ignition? Does the car have to be on? These are all questions surrounding whether someone is operating a car.
The Texas Penal Code does not define “operating” for the purposes of DWI. It is the circumstances around what the person is doing that matters and is up to a Judge or Jury to decide the operational issue, not the police officer or the prosecutor. If someone is sitting in a parked car with the engine on waiting for their friend to get in so they can leave, operation most likely will be provable. However, if a person is sleeping in a parked car with the seat reclined with the engine on, proving operation can be more problematic.
When facing this serious charge, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney fighting for you.
What If No One Sees Me Driving?
In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove when (the time) the car was driven or operated. Not having the normal use or 0.08 or more all apply to the time of driving/operation. If someone saw you driving or if you are pulled over, there is evidence of the time. But what happens when no one sees you driving? The prosecution will then look for two types of evidence.There must be proof, in what ever form, of the time of driving/operating beyond a reasonable doubt.
Confession Evidence: You can confess to driving the car and tell the officers the time you were driving. Remember, you have the right to remain silent. Use it! However, there has to be some additional evidence to support your confession of being the driver.
Circumstantial Evidence: When the police or a witness arrive at a scene, is there evidence that the car was recently driven. Is the hood of the car still warm? Is the engine smoking? Was the accused eating food in a car parked away from a restaurant it was purchased at and the receipt has the date and time of purchase, etc. There are many ways where the evidence can circumstantially prove/suggest the car was recently driven.
Failing Sobriety Testing
People can and do naturally fail sobriety tests. Sobriety tests are extremely subjective, and everyone’s performance will be different. They are meant to determine alcohol impairment but cannot differentiate that from natural difficulty. It is a guessing game where the police have only one answer – alcohol.
If you fail 1 sobriety test but perform perfectly on all others attempted, the officer will have probable cause to arrest you and will. Officers do not try and determine why you failed, only that you did fail. Naturally failing a sobriety test for any reason will get you arrested. Natural difficulty will be held against you.
Refusing Sobriety Testing
Why attempt any sobriety test that police officers have naturally failed? I have seen police officers fail sobriety tests just trying to demonstrate them. Any natural difficulty will be taken as a sign of intoxication. Although completely innocent and normal activity, it will be taken as evidence against you.
If you refuse all sobriety testing, you most likely will be arrested, but what evidence will they have against you? If you are not 100% certain you can pass all sobriety tests perfectly, do not attempt them. There is a reason Judges, Prosecutors, & Police officer who are investigated for DWI refuse all testing.
What Does A DWI Charge Mean?
The 0.08 blood alcohol content level applies to persons of the age 21 or over in Texas. Minors, those who are under the legal drinking age of 21, may be charged with a DWI for having any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Commercial drivers may be charged with a DWI if their blood alcohol content level is at 0.04.
When Facing a DWI Charge, Never Feel Alone – Let Attorney Doug Wilder Help You
Doug gives all of his clients his cell phone number for their peace of mind, as well as the reassurance that you always have access to ask him questions or advice regarding your case, no matter the day or time.