Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is found under § 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code. The definition of "intoxicated" means 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 the two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body. It can also be defined as having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
It is important to note that taking prescribed medication alone or in combination with another drug or alcohol can result in a DWI arrest and possible conviction. Generally, all that is required from the state to prove the offense occurred is to show that the defendant did not possess the normal use of his or her mental or physical faculties, or that the defendant's blood or breath tested above the legal limit. If there is no breath or blood sample, however, the loss of one of their faculties and not the other could be explained by other means.
Unless a prior conviction for DWI exists or a child passenger was in the vehicle (younger than 15 years of age), an arrest for DWI will typically result in a charge of a Class B misdemeanor. This is the most common DWI charge in Williamson County. A Class B misdemeanor carries a punishment range of up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. A blood alcohol level greater than .15 or a subsequent arrest with a prior DWI conviction and no aggravating circumstances (such as a child passenger) is a Class A misdemeanor that can result in up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. A third DWI arrest with two prior convictions is a third-degree felony.
In addition, being charged with DWI immediately threatens an offender's driver's license. The offender will only have 15 days from the date the Notice of Suspension was received (generally the arrest date) to request an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing. Otherwise, the state will suspend the offender's license and driving privileges 40 days from the date of the arrest.
A licensed driver age 21 or over who submits to a breath or blood test and is over the legal limit will receive a mandatory 90-day driver's license suspension. If the same licensed driver refuses to submit to a breath or blood test, the period of suspension is enhanced to 180 days. Driver's license proceedings, including occupational driver's license hearings, are separate from the offender's criminal case. I regularly handle both on behalf of my clients. An occupational driver's license will enable its holder to drive to many places including: their place of employment, school, the grocery store, post office and locations where he or she can conduct essential household duties.
It is important to note that anything an individual says or does could be used against him or her in court. Whether or not a driver has provided the state with a breath or blood test or submitted to field sobriety tests, that person should contact an attorney immediately for legal advice.
Pre-Trial Intervention Program
There are multiple criminal defense options available to those have been charged with a DWI. They might qualify for a special program in Williamson County called the Pre-Trial Intervention Program. This is a six month program that is only an option for first-time offenders. Participants in this program are able to avoid prosecution if they abide by the law and follow all the other terms of the program. Additionally, if they are accepted and complete the program successfully, their charges will be dismissed. Getting DWI charge dismissed saves individuals the expense of yearly surcharges required to maintain their driving privileges.
One must apply to the Pre-Trial Intervention Program through an attorney. It is a good option for many people, but it's not for everyone. If you are considering this program, it is important to first have a lawyer review your case to determine whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence against you.
Evidence that was obtained in an illegal search or seizure can be suppressed, which may result in dismissal of your charges. For example, the police must have legal justification to conduct a traffic stop. I will carefully examine the police report, the video and all other evidence before advising you on an appropriate DWI defense strategy.
If you've been charged with driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence (DUI), don't hesitate to contact me. We can discuss which options are best for you, whether that involves seeking pretrial intervention (which allows you to remove charges from your criminal record), seeking dismissal of charges or going to trial.