Driving under the influence is a real danger. In Texas in 2019, more than 10,000 accidents happened as a result of drunk driving. Nearly 900 people died, with 2,150 more being seriously injured.
DWI laws and charges put dangerous drivers in jail. But receiving a DUI charge can be troubling and disorientating.
Just one offense can lead to imprisonment. Yet a third offense can put you behind bars for years.
When you are facing your third DWI charge, you need a DWI lawyer. But before you give one a call, you need to get smart about the laws. Here is a quick guide on what you and your lawyer should do.
What Is a DWI Under Texas Law?
Under Texas law, you are intoxicated when your blood alcohol concentration is .08 percent or above. That takes at least two drinks to reach, so you can have one beer and then drive.
But the law also applies to anyone who drives while impaired. You can receive a DWI charge even if you are below the legal limits. You cannot drive with an open container of alcohol, even if you don’t drink from it.
A first offense has severe penalties in itself. It includes up to 5,000 dollars in fines. It leads to a mandatory jail sentence of three days, which the judge can extend up to 180 days.
You can lose your license for up to one year. When you apply to get a new one, you will need to complete a DWI traffic school. You will also see increases in your insurance premiums.
A second offense includes up to 7,500 dollars in fines. It leads to a one-month minimum prison sentence and loss of license for up to two years.
A third offense includes up to 16,000 dollars in fines. Prison sentences range from two to 10 years. You can also lose your license for up to two years.
You can be charged with other offenses if you drink and drive. If you drive with a child passenger while intoxicated, you can receive a child endangerment charge. You can receive a fine or prison sentence for that charge, and the penalties for DWI also increase.
How to Beat a DWI Charge
Do not drink and drive. Even if you’ve only had one beer, you could get into an accident and get arrested for DWI. Take public transportation or hire a car to take you where you need to go.
Do not drive after consuming any intoxicating substances. This includes strong prescription medications.
If you must drive after you’ve had a drink, wear a seatbelt and practice safe driving techniques. Many drivers get pulled over not for drunk driving, but because the officer saw them doing something else.
When a police car pulls behind you and turns on its lights, pull over right away. Take a deep breath and get your license and insurance.
In the state of Texas, you must identify yourself when a police officer asks for your personal information. You must let them see your driver’s license and/or photo identification.
If they don’t ask for it, you do not have to provide it. Beyond that one question, you have the right to remain silent.
You must invoke your right. State out loud, “I wish to assert my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent until I have a lawyer present.” If you don’t make a clear statement, they will keep asking you questions.
You can refuse field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. Your license can be suspended for up to 180 days. But your refusal gives prosecutors very little evidence to convict you of a DWI offense.
If you get arrested, tell the police again that you are asserting your right to remain silent. Once you are processed, call a DWI attorney and get them down to the station right away.
What a DWI Lawyer Can Do
For prosecutors to prove you were drinking while driving, they must prove seven separate things. Your DWI lawyer can defend you on any or all of these seven elements.
They could argue you were not operating a car or vehicle while intoxicated. Just because they found you in your car does not mean you were driving your car. If your attorney can prove there was no operation, you can get acquitted.
You must have been in a public place. If you were drinking in your driveway or on your porch, you did not commit a DUI.
The most common defense has to do with intoxication. You may have a medical condition that led to a false breathalyzer reading. Alcohol in mouthwash or toothpaste can trigger a higher reading than expected.
Your lawyer can call into question the circumstances for an arrest. If you were detained after a field sobriety test, they can point out flaws in the test. You may have bad coordination that caused you to fall down.
DWI lawyers launch their own investigations. They gather police reports, witness testimonies, and surveillance recordings. They talk to you and understand what may have caused your arrest.
You should hire a DWI lawyer before any offense. Given the incredible penalties you can face for a third DWI offense, it is essential that you hire a lawyer for one.
Contact the Best DWI Law Firm
You may have a DWI conviction already. That doesn’t mean you’re helpless when a third DWI charge comes your way.
A third offense can send you to prison for 10 years. Don’t let that happen.
When a cop pulls you over, give them nothing that they can use against you. Invoke your right against self-incrimination. Refuse a breathalyzer test.
Contact a DWI lawyer who can break down the law. They should launch a defense based on one element of it.
Find lawyers with experience and knowledge. The James R. Fletcher Law Firm has Austin’s leading DWI attorneys. Contact us today.