dwi defense attorney in austin, Tx
Driving while intoxicated is a criminal offense that can carry serious legal consequences. To be guilty of driving while intoxicated, a person must “operate a motor vehicle” in a “public place” while “intoxicated.”
Typically, the primary issue in a DWI case is whether the person is “intoxicated.” Texas Penal Code 49.01(2) defines “intoxicated” as “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 having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more."
Driving while intoxicated charges
The severity of a DWI charge depends upon the facts of the case, as well as whether or not the defendant has any prior DWI convictions. It is important to note that probation is a penalty that can be granted instead of jail time for these offenses. Typical conditions of DWI probation include ignition interlock devices and drug and alcohol education courses. These various DWI charges are as follows:
Class B Misdemeanor - First Time DWI
First time DWI offenders with a BAC under 0.15 will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. The penalty for this offense ranges from 72 hours to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. A conviction of this offense can result in the loss of an individual's driving privileges for up to a year. Those who are convicted of this offense will also be required to pay annual surcharges ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years.
Class A Misdemeanor - First Time DWI with BAC 0.15 or Greater
The charge for a first time DWI offense can be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor if a chemical test shows an individual's blood alcohol content level to be 0.15 or higher. The penalty for this offense ranges from 30 days to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. A conviction of this offense can result in the loss of an individual's driving privileges for up to two years. Those who are convicted of this offense will also be required to pay annual surcharges ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years.
Class A Misdemeanor - DWI Second Offense
If an individual has been previously convicted of driving while intoxicated and they are arrested for the offense again, they will be charged with DWI 2nd Offense. This charge is considered a Class A misdemeanor and roughly carries the same penalties as the DWI with BAC 0.15 or greater charge, listed above.
3rd Degree Felony - DWI Third Offense
A third DWI offense is considered a third degree felony. The penalty for this offense ranges from two to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. A conviction of this offense can result in the loss of an individual's driving privileges for up to two years. Those who are convicted of this offense will also be required to pay annual surcharges up to $2,000 per year for three years.
driving while intoxicated defenses
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to fight a DWI charge that an experienced DWI defense lawyer can utilize to potentially lessen the consequences or even avoid a conviction altogether. Not every approach will apply to every arrest, but an experienced DWI attorney will know how to use them, should they fit your specific situation.
- Unconstitutional Traffic Stop – For an officer to initiate a traffic stop, he must have reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation occurred. If it is found that no such reasonable suspicion existed, the traffic stop is considered unconstitutional and illegal. All evidence discovered in an illegal stop, including verbal admissions, field sobriety tests, breath and blood tests, etc., can potentially be suppressed and ruled inadmissible at trial.
- Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests - There are three standardized field sobriety tests: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (a.k.a. “HGN” or "the eye test"), the Walk-and-Turn, and the One-Leg Stand. These tests are standardized in that they are taught to be administered in the same way, every time, to every individual. Any errors or mistakes in the way the test was instructed, demonstrated or delivered can potentially invalidate the results.
- Faulty or Unreliable Breath Tests – Breath tests are one of the most common ways to measure a person’s blood alcohol concentration. However, the test itself is susceptible to a variety of outside influences and therefore it is not necessarily always accurate. The test can be influenced by improper administration by the police, instrument malfunction, physiological conditions such as acid re-flux disease or even a person burping before the test. Police are required to monitor the accused for 15 minutes prior to administering the test to make sure stomach contents do not affect the test. If the police fail to do so, this can invalidate the reading.
These are only a few of the ways to defend against a DWI charge. Contact Law Office of Alejandro Martinez, PLLC, an experienced Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer to determine the best strategy for you.