DWI Defined

Under Texas statutes, DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated.  To be convicted in the state of Texas, the Prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Loss of normal use of your mental faculties, or
  • Loss of normal use of your physical faculties, or
  • .08 alcohol level in either your breath, blood, or urine.

Partial example Jury Charge in a DWI Case:

Now if you find from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that on or about ___________, the defendant was then and there intoxicated by reason of the introduction of (alcohol)(controlled substance)(a drug) or a combination of two or more of those substances into the body, and while so intoxicated did drive or operate a motor vehicle in a public place, then you will find the defendant guilty as charged.

Can I beat a DWI?

The short answer is yes. Many people misunderstand that the law does not prohibit alcohol in your system while driving. Rather, it only requires that you cannot be intoxicated, which is defined as having lost the normal use of either mental or physical faculties or having a .08 alcohol level in either your breath, blood, or urine. The loss of your mental of physical faculties has to be caused by the alcohol or drug.  There may be a variety of other physical or health reasons that explain the loss.

Example Defenses

  • Nothing was wrong with me; the officer made a mistake.
  • I have physical limitations to explain why I did not do well on the test.
  • I was tired and had been working long shifts.
  • I had just had a drink before I left and was a short distance from my home. The officer delayed my return, causing my blood alcohol to rise in the interim.

Legal Reasons You May Beat the Charge

  • The officer had no reason to stop me; it was an unconstitutional stop (sometimes referred to as No Probable Cause).
  • The officer had no reason arrest me; I passed the Field Sobriety Test. (This test was probably recorded on video, and it can be the best evidence to prove you were not intoxicated.)
  • The blood or breath test was improperly taken.

These defenses and example legal issues are only a few of many options that may be used to beat a DWI. You need an Attorney. Please contact John Choate Law.

Right to Drive

Your right to drive is in immediate jeopardy. When an Officer arrests you for DWI, they hand you two pieces of paper explaining that your privilege to drive may be suspended. This includes information to contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to contest the suspension.  If you do not contest it within fifteen days, this suspension is automatic.

In addition to the pending DWI, DPS can suspend your license through a process called Administrative License Revocation (ALR). If you contest the suspension, you or your attorney will have a right to appear before a ALR judge and cross-examine the arresting officer, object to evidence, present new evidence, and make both factual and legal arguments to stop the suspension.

What is a DUI?

This term is often misused. In Texas, DUI refers to the offense of a Minors having any alcohol in their system–driving under the influence. A DUI charge does not require impairment. A Minor is guilty of DUI if there is any detectable amount of alcohol in their body.

Do I need a Lawyer?

Absolutely. If convicted of DWI and you lose your license through the ALR process, the personal cost of having a conviction on your record is just the beginning.  The financial cost includes:

  • Cost of Court
  • Fines as high as $10,000.00 for Felony and $4,000.00 for a Misdemeanor
  • “High Risk” insurance increases
  • Thousands of dollars in surcharges to the State each year for three years
  • Fees for Occupational License and more attorney fees.

You need an experienced lawyer who knows how to immediately research the legal and factual issues and defend you both at the ALR and at Trial if necessary. It’s more cost-effective in the long run.

What happens if I’m convicted?

  • First Offense: If your blood alcohol is less than .15 BAC, the fine could be as much as $2,000.00 and/or a jail sentence from 3 days to 180 days, and a driver’s license suspension of 90 to 365 days (Class B Misdemeanor). If your blood alcohol is greater than  BAC .15, the fine increases to $4,000 and jail time increases to one year (Class A Misdemeanor).
  • Second Offense: The fine could be as much as $4,000.00 and/or jail from 30 days to one year, and a possible driver’s license suspension ranging from 180 days to 2 years (Class A Misdemeanor).
  • Third Offense: The fine could be as much as  $10,000.00 and/or 2-to-10 years of imprisonment, and suspension of your driver’s license ranging from 180 days up to 2 years (3rd Degree Felony).

Related Offenses

Intoxication Assault: If an accident occurred while intoxicated resulting in serious bodily injury, you can be sentenced to a minimum of two years and up to a maximum of ten years in prison with a fine up to $10,0000.00 (2nd Degree Felony).

Intoxication Manslaughter: If an accident occurred while intoxicated resulting in a death, you can be sentenced to from 2-to-20 years in prison and/or pay a maximum fine of $10,000.00 (2nd Degree Felony).

DWI with a Child Passenger:  If you are arrested for DWI with a child under 15 years of age in the car, you could get anywhere between 180 days and 2 years along with a fine not to exceed $10,000.00 (State Jail Felony).