Fighting For Your Driving Rights After Texas DWI Charges
If you or a loved one is facing DWI (driving while intoxicated) charges, you require immediate legal assistance and representation from an experienced attorney. Our San Antonio criminal defense lawyers at Clarissa Fernandez Pratt, Attorney at Law, dedicate themselves to protecting the rights of individuals with DWI charges, including driving rights.
Our attorneys are former prosecutors who now fight for defendants and are ready to represent you. DWI charges are serious and may aggravate depending on a series of elements. Therefore, it is crucial to hire a San Antonio DWI lawyer who can examine the details of your case to develop a strong legal strategy.
Assertive And Knowledgeable San Antonio Legal Advocacy
DWI charges in Texas include other illegal substances and prescription drugs, apart from alcohol. The enforced zero tolerance law imposes harsh charges against first-time and subsequent offenders, including:
- All offenders must spend jail time that ranges from three to 180 days.
- First-time offenders may need to pay a fine of a maximum of $2,000.
- Beginning with a first-time offense, drivers will lose their driver’s license for 90 days up to one year.
- Upon expiration of the suspension, offenders have to pay $1,000 to $2,000 annually for three years to retain their license.
- Offenders may be subject to having their vehicles confiscated or required to install an ignition interlock device.
You should not face your DWI charges alone. Based on the specific circumstances of your case, our attorneys will construct a strong strategy focused on protecting your rights, future and ability to drive.
What Happens After A DWI Arrest?
After a DWI arrest in Texas, there are several things that typically happen:
- Booking: The arresting officer will take you to a police station or jail, where you will be booked. This involves recording your personal information, taking your fingerprints and mugshots and searching you for any contraband.
- Bail: You may be able to post bail in order to be released from jail while you await trial. The amount of bail will depend on the severity of the offense, your criminal history and other factors.
- Administrative License Suspension (ALS): If you refuse to take a Breathalyzer or blood test or if you take the test and fail, your driver’s license may be automatically suspended by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). You have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing to challenge the suspension.
- Court appearances: You will be required to appear in court for arraignment, where you will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, a trial date will be set.
- Defense preparation: Your attorney will begin preparing your defense, which may involve investigating the circumstances of your arrest, challenging the evidence against you and negotiating with the prosecution.
- Possible plea bargain: In some cases, the prosecution may offer a plea bargain, which involves pleading guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a reduced sentence.
- Trial: If your case goes to trial, a judge or jury will hear the evidence and decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. If you are found guilty, you may be sentenced to jail or prison, fines, community service, probation or other penalties.
Implied Consent In Texas And Refusing To Take A Breathalyzer Test
Every individual holding a driver’s license provides their implicit consent to take a chemical test upon request by an authority to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you refuse, you may be subject to some of the penalties outlined below. However, the possibility of malfunctioning Breathalyzers and improper law enforcement procedures may aid in your defense.
Here are some of the consequences of refusing a Breathalyzer test in Texas:
- Automatic license suspension: If you refuse to take a Breathalyzer test, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for 180 days. This suspension is separate from any criminal charges that you may face and takes effect regardless of the outcome of your case.
- Evidence at trial: Refusing to take a Breathalyzer test can be used as evidence against you in court. The prosecution may argue that your refusal indicates guilt and can be used to demonstrate consciousness of guilt.
- Criminal penalties: If you are ultimately convicted of a DWI, your refusal to take a Breathalyzer test may result in enhanced penalties. For example, a first-time DWI offender who refuses a Breathalyzer test may face a longer license suspension, higher fines and longer jail time.
- Possible arrest: Refusing to take a Breathalyzer test does not guarantee that you will avoid arrest. Law enforcement officers may arrest you based on other evidence of intoxication, such as your behavior, field sobriety tests or the smell of alcohol on your breath.
How To Win Your DWI Trial
Here are some key strategies that may increase your chances of winning a DWI trial:
- Challenge the validity of the traffic stop: If the police officer did not have a valid reason for pulling you over, any evidence obtained during the stop may be inadmissible in court.
- Challenge the results of the field sobriety tests: Standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs), such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg-stand tests, are not always accurate and may produce false results. An experienced attorney may be able to challenge the validity of these tests in court.
- Challenge the results of the Breathalyzer or blood test: Breathalyzer and blood tests are not always reliable and may produce false positives due to factors such as improper calibration, human error or medical conditions. An experienced attorney can review the results of these tests and challenge their validity in court.
- Question the officer’s observations: A police officer’s subjective observations of your behavior, such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes, may not necessarily indicate intoxication. An experienced attorney can challenge the officer’s interpretation of these observations and argue that they do not necessarily indicate impairment.
- Argue that the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof: In a DWI trial, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving while intoxicated. If the prosecution cannot meet this burden of proof, you may be acquitted.
What Is An Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a Breathalyzer that connects to the vehicle’s ignition system with the purpose of stopping someone from driving while drunk. For the vehicle to start, the driver has to blow into the device and provide a breath sample that is under the required level.
The device measures the driver’s breath alcohol content (BAC) and will prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver’s BAC is above a certain level, typically 0.02%. This is much lower than the legal limit for driving under the influence, which is typically 0.08%.
If the driver’s BAC is below the limit, the vehicle will start as normal. However, the IID will require the driver to provide additional breath samples at random intervals while driving to ensure that they do not consume alcohol after starting the vehicle.
The use of an IID is often a requirement for individuals convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in order to regain their driving privileges. In some states, the use of an IID is mandatory for all individuals convicted of DWI, while in others, it may be required only for repeat offenders or for those with particularly high BAC levels.
What Is The True Cost Of A DWI In Texas?
A DWI is not cheap. After an arrest, you will face numerous expenses that could potentially strain your finances. Even a first-time DWI offense can cost thousands of dollars.
Your largest expense will likely be your attorney’s fees. While the exact amount you owe your attorney depends on the nature of your situation, the average amount paid in Texas DWI cases is $9,400. Other major expenses you may face include a fine (as much as $2,000 for a first-time offense), an IID ($1,400), probation fees (as much as $1,200), bail (as much as $1,000) and car insurance rate hikes (as much as $1,000).
You will have to contend with plenty of minor expenses as well, which can add up. Basic court costs can be as much as $500, and your cumulative impound fee (which includes impound, towing and storage) will be around $300. You may have to enroll in an alcohol education course as well, which could set you back as much as $200.
Altogether, the combined total of these costs can exceed $15,000 for a first-time DWI offense. If you are charged and convicted of subsequent DWI offenses, this figure will increase substantially. Fighting your drunk driving charges is essential for minimizing their financial impact, and our Bexar County DWI attorneys can help you out.
Do You Need To Consent To Field Sobriety Tests?
Field sobriety tests can sometimes be unreliable, yet you may feel pressured by police officers to perform them. In Texas, though, you have the right to refuse field sobriety tests. You can say “no” to these tests without running the risk of legal penalties.
You cannot, however, refuse any chemical tests, including breath tests, as police officers request. Refusing chemical testing violates implied consent laws and can land you into deeper trouble beyond any DWI charges you may face.
How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?
For most motorists in Texas, a BAC of 0.08% or above can lead to DWI charges. The exact number of drinks it takes to reach this point depends on how a person processes alcohol, though it is often between two and four drinks.
Some motorists are held to more stringent BAC standards. Commercial driver’s license holders can face DWI charges if their BAC measures at 0.04% or above. And motorists younger than 21 cannot have any alcohol in their system at all.
If you’re going out and know you’ll be drinking, the best way to avoid DWI charges – and enjoy yourself – is to plan ahead. You can take the following steps to ensure you have a good, safe and DWI-free time:
- Choose a designated driver: If one of your friends is not drinking, have them be responsible for your transportation.
- Order a ride-share vehicle or call a taxi: If all your friends are drinking or if you’re out drinking alone, taking an Uber, Lyft or taxi home is an easy way to stay out of trouble.
- Spend the night with friends: If you spent the night drinking and driving is your only way home, ask your friends if you can stay with them. You can drive home in the morning when you’re sober.
Get A San Antonio DWI Attorney Who Will Fight For Your Future. Call Now.
When facing DWI charges, you risk more than your driving rights. Call our skilled team at 210-920-2535. You can also reach our firm, Clarissa Fernandez Pratt, Attorney at Law, by filling out our online form for a free initial consultation. Hablamos español.