In Texas, DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is different than DUI (Driving Under the Influence). DUI is typically an offense reserved for minors (under age 21) who are driving a vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. As it is illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase alcohol, the law seems to follow that they shouldn’t have it in their system when driving, either. We handle these cases, though they are more infrequent. They are normally class “C” misdemeanors and are subject to a penalty of up to a $500 fine only.
The biggie is DWI. DWI can be charged against people who are not otherwise criminal in nature – it’s an offense for everyone, and it carries with it some extreme consequences – license suspension, probation, surcharges with the Department of Public Safety (DPS), job loss, ignition interlock devices (breathing machine before you can start your car), community service, even jail. Without a flat out acquittal (winning at trial), there is no way to get these cases dismissed upon completing probation. There is no “deferred” eligibility. People make mistakes and, unfortunately, our legislature has set some pretty strict guidelines around this offense.
Lloyd Law Firm handles these cases often and is constantly researching the ever-changing law in this area. We will also assist in the pursuit of an Occupational Driver’s License (ODL) while your case is pending and thereafter to keep you on the road, in addition to attending and defending you in your Administrative License Revocation Hearing (ALR).
Some free advice? Seek an attorney before agreeing to any tests for DWI on the roadside or afterwards. Why would you give the police evidence to use against you? Your license can be suspended whether you blow or not. The police may even be able to gain a warrant for a blood draw. If the officer believes you may have lost the normal use of your physical or mental faculties due to alcohol or drugs OR your blood alcohol level is over .08 – you may be arrested. Read the paperwork you’re provided, too. You may have a very small window of 15 days to request a hearing before your license is automatically suspended. There are quite a number of pitfalls and many defenses in a DWI case; you need Lloyd Law Firm to assist you.
DWI Frequently Asked Questions
- I just got arrested for DWI; should I hire an attorney quickly?
YES. You may only have 15 days to request a hearing regarding the suspension of your driver’s license. This determines whether or not you can drive in the meantime. Plus, you may need a bond set or conditions changed so you can move on with your life.
- If I think I was drunk, can I still win the case?
YES. Due to the high subjective nature and the many technicalities required to prove a DWI, an experienced attorney can defend you even if you look bad on tape or blew over the limit.
- The police told me it was all on tape, does that hurt me?
NO. You might look better than you thought. Plus, a recording may catch errors that the officer made, too. The audio or video recording can be a great tool.
- If I fail the breath test, is it worth fighting?
YES. The officers have precise rules on how to conduct tests and errors may keep the test from being believed. Juries can still return NOT GUILTY verdicts in the face of test results.
- How can they prove I was drunk if I never took a breath test?
2 ways. If they can prove that you had alcohol or drugs in your system that caused you to lose the normal use of your (1) physical or (2) mental faculties while driving.
- I was told never to take a breath test. Is that good advice?
- If I pass the breath or blood test, will the police let me go home usually?
NO. If you are asked to take the actual breath test (not a portable one on the side of the road) or have your blood drawn, it means you are ALREADY UNDER ARREST. The rest is just evidence for them to use against you. You aren’t going to be un-arrested!
- Should I blow in the portable breath test on the roadside?
- Can I refuse to take a breath or blood test?
- Can my refusal to take the test(s) be used against me?
Yes. Your license may still be suspended, and the DA’s office will tell a judge or jury that you refused, hoping to make you look guilty. The good news? Most people have been told NOT to blow already, so that seems to be common. And, maybe the machines are not very accurate, anyway; they’re constantly developing technology and building new models… Ultimately, it is your decision.
- Can the police force me to have blood drawn if I was in an accident?
Yes. The officer has the option to choose which type of test he is requesting. If certain prerequisites are not met, though, the results may be thrown out.
- Is a blood draw case harder to defend than a breath test case?
Yes. Because of the settled science relating to blood draws, these cases are tougher. A good attorney can still insure that the jury only sees evidence that has passed all the tests to become admissible in the courtroom, though. It requires careful analysis of how the labs and police handled the process.
- Can I get a DWI when I’m just taking my prescribed medication?
YES. As long as it can be proven that you lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties – see question/answer no. 5. This is another critical area for an experienced criminal attorney.
- Why did the police ask me to do ‘tests’ by my car?
The police are trying to gather evidence to determine whether you should be charged with DWI. These tests are generally called Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). Some are standardized and must follow certain criteria to be valid; others are merely helpful to the officers. None of them are typically helpful for you. create a case of why they think you are DWIThese were Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). There are three standardized field sobriety tests – the HGN (eye test), the Walk and Turn, and the One Leg stand. Police use them when investigating a DWI to try and determine whether someone is intoxicated.
- Which tests are "standardized?"
Three of the FSTs are standardized, meaning instruction, demonstration, and performance must be done the same way every time to be valid. They are the (1) HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) or eye test, (2) Walk and Turn, and (3) One Leg Stand. A criminal defense attorney should review the procedure an officer uses in order to defend your DWI.
- Can I win my ALR?
Yes. An Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing is used to determine whether or not your driver’s license will be suspended as a result of refusing or failing the breath or blood test when you were arrested for DWI or DUI. There is much information gathered at this stage that can ultimately benefit you in your pending DWI charge, also.
- How do I drive to work if I have no license?
If an ALR hearing is requested within 15 days, you still have your license until a Judge says you don’t. If the Judge says you don’t, then you can request an occupational driver’s license (ODL) to drive to and from work and for essential household needs until your license is no longer suspended. This is not automatic but is generally available. Your attorney can help you here.
- If I win my DWI trial, does it still show on my record?
NO. If you are acquitted of a DWI or DUI, you may asked to have the records expunged (destroyed) so that no one else will know. A trained attorney can assist you in this process.