Austin DWI Attorney
Driving While Intoxicated
Every year, thousands of drivers are pulled over for suspected drunk driving and arrested. Under Texas Penal Code §49.04, a person can be charged with this offense if they are intoxicated while driving in a public place. The law states the legal definition of intoxication as the following:
(A) 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
(B) having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
Cases of drunk driving are usually charged as Class B misdemeanors and the offender is usually given at least three days in confinement in jail. For drivers whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level was at 0.15% or above at the time of arrest, their charges will be increased to a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties can range from license suspension to thousands of dollars in fines, not to mention the damage it could cause on the driver's record as well as their reputation in the workforce. Below we have listed various categories that we can provide assistance with so please do not hesitate to get in touch with a Austin criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Boating Under the Influence
The charge for boating under the influence (BUI) can actually get your driver's license suspended in addition to getting your boating privileges taken away. While it is not illegal to have containers of alcohol on your boat in the state of Texas, you can still be arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Breath & Blood Tests
If law enforcement pulls you over under suspicion of drunk driving, you will likely have to concede to a breath test, and possibly a blood test at a nearby police station. If you refuse either of these tests, then you will have your license automatically suspended. Should your breath test come back with a BAC level higher than .08%, you will typically be arrested under charge of driving while under the influence.
This type of hearing is not the same as a criminal hearing, which you will also have to attend if you were charged with DWI. A hearing at the DMV will focus primarily on the evidence of your arrest and whether or not your license should be suspended and for how long. It is important that you act quickly with this process because if you do not petition for a hearing within 15 days of your official charges, your license will be automatically suspended for at least 180 days.
DUI (Underage DWI)
Anyone under the age of 21 who has alcohol in their system and then chooses to get behind the wheel may be arrested for underage DWI. The blood alcohol concentration limit is also much lower for underage drivers since it is against the law for them to consume alcohol in the first place. Texas is a zero tolerance state, which means any presence of alcohol could constitute an arrest.
DWI & Drugs
Individuals may be pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence of either illegal narcotics or prescription drugs. This will be difficult to prove without a drug test, but even those with prescription drugs in their system could be facing a conviction.
Texas has different penalties for DWI-related arrests depending on the level of the crime committed and if the driver had previously been arrest for driving drunk. If it was a misdemeanor or felony, the amount of fines vary as well as license suspension, jail time, community service and more.
Upon being pulled over, you will likely have to pass a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test administered by law enforcement officers. If you do not, an officer has the right to arrest you and take you into a local station for blood tests. At this point, your car could be impounded, you can be taken to jail and your license will be suspended for at least 180 days. You will then be required to attend a DMV hearing and a criminal hearing as well.
DWI with Injury
It is considered a third degree felony in Texas to cause an accident resulting in another's serious harm or injury. Not only will the driver be charged with driving under the influence, he or she will face additional criminal charges, especially if their actions killed another individual. This is considered vehicular manslaughter and involves its own penalties.
Felony intoxication charges are typically limited to car accidents that cause the death or serious injury of another. They can also extend to offenses involving multiple DWI charges. If it is a driver's third DWI or subsequent offense, they will automatically be facing felony accusations and serious penalties.
Field Sobriety Tests
Law enforcement may pull over drivers that they suspect to be under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances. Once they have stopped the driver, they will administer various tests to determine the suspect's sobriety level such as walking in a straight line, standing on one leg and reciting the alphabet. Anyone who fails these tests will likely be charged with DWI unless there were other substantial factors that negatively altered the results.
Individuals who have prior intoxication charges on their record face more serious penalties upon conviction than others who are facing accusations for the first time. If the driver is facing a third or subsequent charge, it can be considered a felony DWI case. Fines, jail time and other consequences increase with each additional DWI that an individual accumulates.
This crime is a felony of the third degree. Those who are charged with this criminal offense could be facing extensive time in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, years without a license and other additional penalties. It is wise if you consult with a Austin criminal defense lawyer right away if you are facing this kind of charge.
Additional Factors to Consider
Although DWI is usually charged as a misdemeanor, there are some circumstances which can aggravate the situation. For example, if a minor under 15 was in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the driver will be charged with felony DWI and be sent to state jail. In Austin, there were over 1,000 fatalities related to drunk driving accidents in 2009 alone, which has caused both law enforcement and judges to be more persistent about bringing suspected individuals to conviction. If property damage, serious bodily injury, or wrongful death has occurred as a result of an accident under the influence, the driver could be facing enhanced penalties.
We strongly suggest that if you have found yourself in this situation, that you seek the assistance of a qualified attorney to handle your case immediately. Our firm has had significant success handling all kinds of DWI cases, obtaining charge reductions and even complete case dismissals. Please do not hesitate to contact our office today for a free case evaluation.