How to Defend Against a DWI Charge in Texas

police DWI stop at night

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious criminal offense in Texas. If you’ve been arrested for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) violation in Texas, you may be facing stiff penalties, including:

  • High fines
  • Prison time
  • Loss of your driver’s license

You may be feeling scared, hopeless, or desperate, but it’s important that you remain calm and seek appropriate legal support. Regardless of how it felt when you were arrested, you are considered innocent until proven guilty, and an effective defense strategy will help you to maintain your innocence in court.

In the meantime, be respectful to the police and other authorities, but do not admit guilt in any way without the advice of legal counsel. Be sure not to talk to anyone or post on social media about your arrest as anything you say could potentially be used against by the prosecution. Finally, if your license has been temporarily suspended, do not drive under any circumstances. A reputable criminal defense attorney can help you contest your suspended license as well as navigate the steps you will need to take to fight the DWI charge itself.

First, it is important to understand what is at stake when you are accused of driving while intoxicated.

What Is DWI?

Texas Penal Code Section 49.04 states that a person commits on offense of driving under the influence if they are found to be operating a motor vehicle in a public place while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or with a .08 or greater blood alcohol content (BAC).

What Are the Penalties for DWI?

The penalties for a DWI conviction in Texas vary depending on the circumstances and if this is your first, second, or third DWI offense. A first offense is considered a Class B misdemeanor, and may be punishable by:

  • Up to $2000 in fines
  • 3 days – 6 months in jail
  • Suspension of license for 90 days – 1 year
  • DWI educational program
  • Installation of ignition interlock device on your car

For a second offense, which is considered a Class A misdemeanor, the penalties could include:

  • Up to $4000 in fines
  • 1 month – 1 year in jail
  • Suspension of license for up to 2 years with an annual surcharge afterward
  • DWI educational program
  • Installation of ignition interlock device on your car

A third offense is a third-degree felony in Texas, and, if convicted, you could face:

  • Up to $10000 in fines
  • 2-10 years in jail
  • Suspension of license for up to 2 years with annual surcharge of up to $2000 for 3 years
  • DWI educational program
  • Installation of ignition interlock device on your car

Finally, if there was a child under the age of 15 in the car at the time of the DWI arrest, that offense will be considered a felony and you will face increased jail time.

How an Attorney Can Defend You Against a DWI Allegation

An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to determine what the best defense is for your particular case. That strategy might include:

Illegal Traffic Stop

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects you from illegal search and seizures. Your attorney may challenge the prosecution to establish that the police had probable cause to pull you over while you were driving or to search your vehicle. If a police officer lacked reasonable suspicion that you were violating traffic rules, any evidence against you that was attained during the traffic stop would be invalid and the case could be dismissed.

Invalid Field Sobriety Test

If an officer suspects that you may be intoxicated, they may ask you to undertake a field sobriety test. There are three main tests that police use to determine if a person is intoxicated:

  • One leg stand test – raise one leg with your foot parallel approximately six inches off the ground and count while looking at your foot
  • Walk and turn test – walking in a straight line (heel to toe), pivoting, and walking back down the line
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test – measures for nystagmus, or involuntary jerking of the eyeballs by holding a small object about a foot away from your nose and moving it back and forth while you track the object

None of these tests are 100% accurate measures of whether a person is intoxicated. You may have difficulty balancing for various reasons or have a medical condition which interferes with the accuracy of the result. It is also important to establish that the police administered the test and observed the results accurately.

Invalid Blood Draw or Breath Test

Both blood and breath tests must follow specific protocol and procedures to be admissible as evidence in court. For example, in order to draw blood, the police must either have your consent or a valid warrant as privacy interests under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protect your blood from illegal search and seizure. Breath tests must also follow a strict procedure and can also be subject to false positives.

If you have been charged with DWI, it is imperative that you immediately contact an attorney that has experience with DWI cases. Time is of the essence because you only have 15 days after your arrest to challenge the suspension of your license.

At the Law Offices of Mark M. Childress, we understand what is at stake and will help you mount an effective and strategic defense. We will work to get your charge dismissed, and if that is not possible, we will help you get your penalty reduced. We can also help you get your DWI conviction expunged or sealed.

If you are facing DWI charge, contact us online or call us at (817) 497-8148 today to schedule a consultation.

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