In no way, shape or form is drinking and driving ever considered safe, even if you’ve only had one drink. The truth is that impairment and liability begins as soon as alcohol touches your lips.
There are numerous factors that impact alcohol tolerance, such as gender, body weight, what you’ve eaten, and the number of drinks you’ve consumed, of course. What’s important to remember is that you qualify as legally intoxicated after just two-three beers, regardless.
If you live in the Lone Star state, here’s what you should know if you’re arrested for a DWI in Texas.
1. What Qualifies As a DWI in Texas?
In some states, you may hear the term DUI, which stands for ”driving under the influence”. But in Texas, the term DWI means ”driving while intoxicated”. Texas law defines a DWI as such:
”Not having normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol”.
The law states that you qualify for a DWI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than 0.08 or more. Also known as an alcohol concentration level, or the number of grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, 210 liters of breath, or 67 milliliters of urine.
If an open container of alcohol is found inside your vehicle, you could face a fine of up to $5,000. A more severe version of DWI is Aggravated DWI. You can find out more here.
2. You Are Not Always Guilty Just Because You Were Arrested
If stopped by a police officer on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t automatically make you guilty of a DWI. However, a police officer only needs probable cause to make an arrest.
At the end of the day, a police officer bases a DWI arrest on their own judgment and opinion, as well as any Breathalyzer or field tests you are subject to. Only a jury can prove you are guilty of a crime, such as DWI. And this must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
3. What Happens When You Are Stopped For a Suspected DWI?
There are a few important steps to follow once flagged by a police officer. You must remain in your vehicle at all times and keep calm. Make sure you have your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance on-hand.
You have the right to refuse a blood or breath test, but if you do, there is a chance your license could be suspended for 180 days. You may also be asked to exit your vehicle and perform three different field tests.
These include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN), the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand. If you do not feel comfortable performing these tests, you have the right to refuse them. You may be very nervous or anxious which can affect your performance during these tests.
You also don’t have to tell a police officer you have been drinking. The only information you should provide is your personal details, such as your driver’s license, etc.
4. What is the Punishment For a DWI in Texas?
Levels of punishment for a DWI are all circumstantial and depend on the offense. For first-time offenders, you can expect to pay a fine of $2,000 and spend anywhere from three -180 days in jail. You may also lose your driver’s license for up to a year, but this is not always guaranteed.
For a second offense, you may face a fine of $4,000, one month to a year in jail, and a loss of driver’s license for up to two years. Third-time DWI offenders face far more severe consequences. Just some of these include a $10,000 fine, two-10 years in prison depending on the circumstances, and a loss of driver’s license for two years.
If arrested and found guilty of two or more DWI’s in a five-year period, you will need to have a specific ignition switch installed in your vehicle. This switch prevents you from driving if you have been drinking.
5. How Does the State Convict a DWI?
There are particular elements that must be proven in order to convict a person of a DWI. In short, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving a vehicle, while intoxicated, in a public place.
In order to prove your intoxication, the state must provide solid evidence that shows your mental and physical abilities were impaired. Or, they must provide evidence that you were arrested with a BAC of 0.08 or more.
6. Is Driver’s License Suspension Always Guaranteed?
The short answer to this is no. However, there are very particular circumstances that allow for a freeze on the suspension of your license.
The key is to act fast and file for an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within 15-days of your DWI arrest. This request must be sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety. It’s best to hire the professional help of a DWI lawyer in this instance.
7. Does a DWI Conviction Remain On Your Record Forever?
Again, this is also based on certain circumstances and the severity of your DWI case. If you are convicted of a DWI and it’s your first offense, you may eligible to apply for a non-disclosure. In order to seal a DWI from your record, you must meet certain criteria:
- You must have a ”clean” record and not be convicted of any other offense, other than a DWI
- The blood or breath test results must not exceed 0.15
- Your DWI arrest must not involve an accident with any other person
Also, if your case was dismissed and you were not found guilty of a DWI by a jury, you are legible for an expunction from your record.
Brush Up on Your General, Good-to-Know Knowledge
Being arrested for a DWI in Texas may be scary, but remember that you have rights and should not hold back on using them if you have been wrongfully accused.
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