What is a DWI?
One of the most common crimes people are arrested for is driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Which are the DWI laws in Texas?
Under Texas Penal Code §49.04, a person commits a DWI offense if she/he is intoxicated while driving a motor vehicle in a public place. Texas Penal Code §49.01(2) defines intoxicated as:
- Not having the normal use of the mental or physical faculties due to the consumption of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance in the body; or
- Has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
What does BAC mean?
The term alcohol concentration is more commonly known as the blood or breath alcohol concentration, or BAC.
What are Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST)?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed the Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) as a series of psychophysical tests administered by law enforcement and designed to determine whether a person is driving while intoxicated (DWI) or under the influence (DUI).
The three tests administered are:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN): Horizontal gaze nystagmus is an involuntary movement of the eyeball that occurs naturally when an individual’s eye looks to the side. When an individual is affected by the effects of alcohol, this jolt is exaggerated and can occur at lesser angles.
- Walk and turn: Officers can give the person directions more than once if requested.
- One leg stand: The person is only given instructions once, unless the person asks for them again.
What does an arrest for a DWI entail?
Many DWI arrests in Texas involve alcohol concentrations derived from breath samples obtained during road tests or tests conducted at police stations. Sometimes refusing to take a breath or blood test can result in the automatic suspension of a person’s driver’s license.
What happens if a person is arrested for a DWI?
The person will have to deal not only with the criminal charges resulting from an alleged crime but also with the possible civil penalty.
What must a person do to retain their driver’s license once they are arrested for a DWI?
The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) program in Texas only allows a person 15 days to request a hearing after a DWI arrest. This hearing is independent of any criminal charges the person may face for alcohol-related offenses. However, if the person does not request the hearing within 15 days, their license will be automatically suspended.
Which are some common DWI charges?
- First DWI.
- Second DWI.
- Third and subsequent DWI’s.
- Felony DWI – When you get a DWI under certain circumstances, it is considered a felony DWI offense. For example, receiving a DWI with a minor in the vehicle, receiving a third or subsequent DWI, or committing a DWI while seriously injuring or accidentally killing another person are all examples of felony DWI offenses.
- Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) – In many cases, if a person is stopped while using their boat in the ocean, lake, or otherwise and is found to have a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08%, there is a very good chance that the person will receive a BWI.
- Commercial DWI – A commercial DWI is when someone who drives a commercial vehicle, such as an 18-wheeler, receives a DWI while doing their job. Unfortunately, commercial DWI’s are particularly devastating, as they not only result in a suspended license, but can also result in permanent termination of the persons employment.
- Drug-related DWI – In many cases, if a police officer pulls over a person and suspects that she/he is driving under the influence, she/he can also receive a DWI.
- DWI with property damage – If a person damages property while driving under the influence of alcohol, it is very likely that the courts will consider this an aggravating factor, which will increase the severity of the charges that the person will face.
- DWI with BAC .15 – Although a person only needs a blood alcohol content of 0.08% to receive a DWI in Texas, if a person is caught driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.15%, they will face even more severe charges.
- DWI’s under 21 – Texas has a “zero tolerance” law in place regarding people under the age of 21, which essentially means that if a person is caught with any amount of alcohol in their system while driving a motor vehicle and is under the age of 21, the person will receive a DWI.
- Intoxication Assault – Intoxication assault is when someone operates a motor vehicle while under the influence and causes serious bodily injury to another person. This is considered a third degree felony, for which the person can face heavy fines and imprisonment.
- Intoxication involuntary manslaughter – Involuntary manslaughter by intoxication is when someone who was under the influence while operating a motor vehicle collides with someone and accidentally kills them. For this charge, she/he can face up to 20 years in prison, as well as a $10,000 fine.
- Marijuana DWI – If a police officer believes that a person was operating her/his motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, the person may receive a DWI for marijuana.
- Open Container – Open containers of alcohol are prohibited in the seating area of any vehicle and should be stored in the trunk. This means that if a person is caught with an open container in the driver’s seat, passenger seat, or back seat, the person is very likely to face an open container charge.
Important evidence about DWI arrest?
- Infraction report.
- Video of arrest – It is up to the officer to deliver the videotape, if there is one. If there isn’t a video, we’ll cite their patrol vehicle’s maintenance records and find out why there wasn’t.
- Breath test score.
- Blood test results.
Other DWI issues:
- Drug Recognition Assessments (DRE) – Blowing a 0.000 is the first step of the 14-step Drug Recognition Assessment where the officer attempts to allege that the person is intoxicated by something other than alcohol.
- Mandatory Blood Draws: The Texas Supreme Court allows police officers to draw blood without the person’s consent. On “no denial” weekends, if an officer has probable cause to believe that a person is intoxicated and is withholding evidence, then a judge can write a search warrant for the person’s blood. According to the United States Supreme Court, the police must always have a search warrant to draw blood if the client refuses.