Basic Information About Driving While Intoxicated
What is DWI / DUI?
DWI or DUI is shorthand for Driving while intoxicated or Driving Under the Influence. In Texas a person is guilty of DWI if he or she operates a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol level of a .08 or by not having the normal use of their mental or physical facilties by the introduction of alcohol.
Is there any way to avoid a DWI / DUI?
It sounds simple, but don`t drink and drive. Take a taxi, designate a driver, walk, call a friend, but no matter what, do not drink and drive. I say that because each law enforcement agency in and around Houston has a DWI “task force”. While drinking responsibly and driving is not illegal, DWI task force officers will err on the side of caution and arrest a person who chooses to drink and drive. According to one Dwi task force officer, the standing orders of the Houston Police Department are to arrest anyone who drinks and drives.
Can I still be in trouble for driving, even if my BAC is below the legal limit?
Yes. It is also unlawful to drive with your normal faculties impaired. In Texas Normal faculties are the loss normal use of either mental or physical facilties by the introduction of either alcohol and or drugs. The state does not have to prove that a person is above the legal limit in regards to blood alcohol concentration to be found guilty. I represent many people who are arrested for “driving while drugged”. Even if a medicine is perscribed by a doctor it does not negate guilt.
Does the car have to be moving for me to be guilty of DUI?
No. You can be arrested for DUI / DWI by driving and or operating while intoxicated in Texas. But, you need not actually operate the car in order to be arrested. You can still be found guilty if you had the capability and power to dominate, direct, or regulate the vehicle, regardless of whether you were exercising that capability or power at the time of the arrest. In other words, simply sitting behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition can lead to your arrest for DWI / DUI by being in actual physical control of the car.
Do I have to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test?
No. The laws of most states permit the motor vehicle department to suspend your privilege to drive. A person should never take the breath test. The Texas intoxilyzer is a machine that has a dubious reputation at best. In many situations the breath test machine yeilds inaccurate false positive results. In Texas, your refusal to submit to a test upon the request of a law enforcement officer is admissible in any criminal proceeding against you as evidence of you consciousness of guilt. Although you might lose your license it is always best NEVER TO TAKE THE BREATH TEST!
If I am arrested for a DUI, will I lose my license?
Yes and no, the law enforcement officer will seize your license if you are arrested for DWI / DUI with an unlawful BAC or after you refused to submit to a chemical or physical test. Your license will be seized, and the officer will issue you a traffic ticket, which acts as both a temporary driver`s license and as your notice of suspension. In Texas a person may request a review of the driver`s license suspension by the department of motor vehicles within a specified number of days following your arrest. This is called an administrative license revocation hearing (ALR). At an ALR hearing there is a formal review, the hearing officer is authorized to administer oaths, lawyers can examine witnesses and take testimony. If you request an ALR hearing, it shall consist solely of an examination by the department of the written materials submitted by the arresting officer, as well as anything you wish to submit. You generally cannot attend an informal hearing. It is always better to have an experienced DWI attorney represent you at an ALR hearing.
Can I fight my DUI arrest?
Yes, If you have been arrested for DUI, you might want to consider hiring an attorney or having an attorney appointed for you. A criminal defense attorney can help you challenge your stop and arrest and will help you craft and make logical legal arguments.
How long will I lose my license?
This will vary from state to state. Texas provides for a six month license suspension. If you have an unlawful BAC, your driving privilege will likely be suspended for six months for a first offense, and one year for a second offense.
What else will happen to me?
It depends. Through a combination of the right facts and the right attorney you might be able to avoid the heavy consquences of your DWI. A good DWI / DUI defense requires experience, knowledge of the law and reputation. Even in situations where there is no defense a good attorney may be able to mitigate the punishment. In Texas the punishment range is up to 180 days in jail and up to a 2000 dollars for a DWI first offense. In addition, most second offenses within ten years, may result in a mandatory jail term and a third offense in Texas usually results in a felony. Furthermore, your insurance company may discontinue its coverage or at the very least, assign you to a high-risk category, resulting in a substantial increase in your premiums.