In 2016, nearly 1,500 drivers were involved in an alcohol-related accident in Austin. If you get a DWI in Austin, do you know what to expect?
Operating a vehicle on Texas roads carries a huge responsibility. A vehicle can become a killing machine when you are not in control of your faculties. And the consequences of making poor decisions when your judgment is impaired can be devastating.
You may not intend to drink and drive. But after having a few drinks with friends, you may think getting behind the wheel doesn’t seem like a big deal. Think again. Some 1.5 million people are arrested every year for drunk driving in the U. S.
If you get a DWI in Austin, be prepared to follow the 5 critical steps below to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
1. Know Texas Law for DWIs
You may be familiar with the terms DWI (driving while intoxicated) and DUI (driving under the influence). The difference between the two in Texas is related to the type of violation.
DWIs refer to alcohol use and DUIs can involve any substance that impairs driving function. Check out this article for more information.
DWIs and DUIs also differ in penalties. Texas has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drunk driving. DWIs are issued to drivers 21 years old and up who are legally intoxicated.
Penalties for a first-time DWI charge can include the following:
- Up to $2,000 in fines
- Between 3 and 180 days of jail time
- A suspended driver’s license
- Annual fees to recover a suspended license
A driver under age 21 can get a DUI regardless of the level of alcohol in the system or level of impairment. Penalties for minors can include the following:
- A fine up to $500
- Suspension of driver’s license for up to 60 days
- Community service
- Mandatory alcohol-awareness classes
But minors can get a DWI if their level of intoxication meets the legal requirement of 0.08% blood-alcohol concentration.
The first conviction of DWI is a class B misdemeanor, and a second conviction increases the charge to a Class A misdemeanor. But the third conviction is a felony which can result in a fine of up to $10,000, loss of your license for up to 180 days, and up to 2 years in jail.
2. Be Prepared if You Get Pulled Over
You may be pulled over by a law enforcement officer for various reasons from a broken taillight to a routine registration check. But if you show erratic or impaired driving, you will be stopped on suspicion of DWI in Austin.
If stopped, be ready to show the officer your driver’s license, registration, and vehicle insurance. Keep calm and be cooperative and polite.
If you refuse to take a sobriety test, you may lose your license. It’s critical to talk to a lawyer about your rights.
The police officer may ask you to take a sobriety test such as a breathalyzer test to measure your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). A BAC reading of 0.08% will result in a DWI.
Reaching a legal level of intoxication varies from person to person. It can depend on gender, weight, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the amount of food eaten.
For the average person, two to three drinks in one hour can reach that level. Women and adolescents can reach the level in one to two drinks in one hour.
3. Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
Avoid having an open container of alcohol in the car at any time. You can get a DUI and a fine regardless of the BAC reading for having an open container.
It’s important to understand the impact a DWI or DUI can have your life. It can affect your freedom, taint your record, and affect your ability to work and your way of life.
If you’ve never been arrested before, you need to know the process and what to expect. If you are arrested, you may be released on your own recognizance or on bond if you are a minor or a first-time offender.
If you face more serious charges, you may be held longer and may need to post bail. In any circumstance, you or your family member should get the help of an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
4. Hire a Lawyer for a DWI in Austin
Each DWI case can involve various factors and details that affect the outcome of the case. An attorney can explain the process to you and keep you informed on the various steps.
Depending on the case, even first-time offenders can face serious penalties like fines, license suspension, and jail time. That’s why it’s important to contact an experienced attorney immediately. A lawyer will work to dismiss or reduce charges and protect your rights.
5. Understand the Legal Process
When you are charged with a crime, it’s important to understand the legal process and what you’ll be required to do. Being present for all your court appointments and complying with court mandates can avoid additional charges or issues.
Once you have been charged, you will attend an arraignment hearing where you will receive the charges against you and learn about your rights, including the right to an attorney. If you already have an attorney, may not need to attend the arraignment.
Your attorney will be instrumental in preparing you to navigate the legal process for the best outcome.
Taking the Next Steps
A DWI can devastate your life by making it difficult to get a job or be able to drive.
It can affect your relationships or have serious consequences from damage or harm you may have caused to yourself or others.
Here are some ways you can avoid a DWI:
- Don’t drink and drive
- Call a cab
- Choose a designated driver
- Stay where you are for the night
But if you do get a DWI in Austin, call an experienced lawyer who can help you. At James Fletcher DWI Law Office, we have an excellent track record in resolving DWI cases.