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Criminal Defense Attorney

DWI Charges

A DWI Charge Can Put Your Life on Hold. A single arrest can seriously jeopardize your job, your freedom, and your reputation. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, you can’t afford to delay your defense.

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A DWI Charge Can Put Your Life on Hold

When it comes to DWI charges in Texas, even a criminal charge alone can derail your life. A single arrest can seriously jeopardize your job, your freedom, and your reputation. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, you can’t afford to delay your defense. Because the penalties for DWI are harsh, you need a DWI attorney who knows how to aggressively defend your rights.

Although I believe that no one should get behind the wheel without being completely in control, I also ardently believe that everyone deserves a chance to contest unfair and inaccurate charges. As a Galveston DWI lawyer, I have the knowledge and experience to help you defend yourself so you can regain your freedom and get on with your life.

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You Can Be Charged with DWI Without Going over the Legal Limit

Many people mistakenly believe that you can only be arrested if you go over the “legal limit.” Although Texas law sets the DWI threshold at a .08 blood or breath alcohol concentration, police can also arrest you if they determine you are too impaired to drive. This means you can be arrested and get DWI charges regardless of the amount of alcohol in your blood.

Under the Texas Penal Code, a person is intoxicated if they do not have the “normal use of mental or physical faculties” due to alcohol or drug use. Yes, DWI does not just apply to drinking. It also covers drivers who are impaired after taking drugs. This includes prescription medications as well as illegal controlled substances such as marijuana or cocaine. Prosecutors can also prove intoxication if two or more substances–say alcohol and medication mixed together–impaired a driver behind the wheel.

It is important to remember, however, that driving with alcohol in your system is not an automatic crime. As long as you’re not impaired, it is not illegal to drive home after a casual drink with friends or a glass of wine at a restaurant. Many people are wrongfully accused and unjustly prosecuted simply for having a little alcohol on their breath. If you have been arrested unfairly, you need a DWI lawyer who can tell your side of the story and protect your rights under the law.

Drunk Driving Punishments Are Severe

Because drunk driving causes countless injuries and fatalities each year, lawmakers have created increasingly severe penalties for DWI convictions. First offenders can be fined up to $2,000, sentenced to up to 180 days in jail, and lose their license for up to one year.

Two-time offenders can be fined up to $4,000, spend up to one year in jail, and lose their license for up to two years.

Offenders with three convictions face a $10,000 fine, up to 10 years in prison, and the loss of their license for up to two years. Additionally, whether you’re on your first conviction or your fourth, you must pay an annual license reinstatement fee. By now you should understand that DWI charges are a serious crime.

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Enhanced DWI Penalties

Beyond the normal penalties for drunk driving, there are several scenarios where prosecutors may seek enhanced charges against a defendant. For example, if there was a child passenger–which is defined as any person under the age of 15–in the same vehicle as the drunk driver, prosecutors can charge the offender with a state jail felony. In contrast to a normal first-time DWI, which is only a Class B misdemeanor, a state jail felony conviction can land a person in jail for a period of between 180 days and 2 years, in addition to a $10,000 fine.

Prosecutors can also seek an enhanced charge if the evidence shows the driver’s blood-alcohol concentration at the time of arrest was at least 0.15 percent, which is nearly twice the legal limit. In these cases, the defendant faces a Class A misdemeanor charge for a first offense.

Drunk Driving Accidents

Drunk driving is a crime even if nobody is harmed or placed at-risk (other than the drunk driver). But when a third party is injured in an accident caused by drunk driving, the offender may face separate criminal charges for either intoxication assault, or intoxication manslaughter.

Intoxication assault involves any situation where a driver, whether by “accident or mistake,” is intoxicated, and by reason of said intoxication causes “serious bodily injury” to another. In this context, an injury is considered “serious” if it either created a “substantial risk of death” to the victim, caused the victim to suffer some form of “permanent disfigurement,” or resulted in the loss of an organ or bodily function. Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony in Texas. This means the minimum prison time a defendant faces if convicted is 2 years, with a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Intoxication manslaughter, as the name suggests, means a person has died as the result of an accident caused by drunk driving. It is considered a form of homicide. As such, intoxication manslaughter is prosecuted as a second-degree felony in Texas, which carries a prison term of between 2 and 20 years.

Can You Refuse the Breathalyzer?

Given that a breath or blood test often provides the key evidence in a Texas DWI case–after all, it is how police can ascertain a driver’s blood-alcohol content–you might think it is possible to avoid DWI charges or conviction simply by refusing to take the test. That is not the case. As a matter of constitutional law, you do have the right to refuse a Breathalyzer in most cases. Since the police need to “seize” a sample of your blood or breath to complete the test, they usually need a magistrate to issue a warrant before compelling you to give a sample.

But refusing a breath or blood test can have immediate consequences beyond your criminal case. Texas follows what is known as the “implied consent” rule. Basically, this means that by accepting a driver’s license, you are assumed to consent to any lawful request for a blood or breath test. So long as the arresting officer can show they had “probable cause” to arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving, your refusal to consent to chemical testing can be used against you in court.

More to the point, the State of Texas will automatically suspend your driver’s license for 180 days, even if you are never tried and convicted of DWI in court. The license suspension is considered a distinct civil penalty. And if you are arrested a second or third time for DWI and refuse a blood or breath test, the automatic license suspension period is 2 years.

It is also important to understand that there are certain situations where the police may take a sample of your blood for testing without your consent or waiting to obtain a warrant. For instance, if you are involved in a car accident that caused serious injury or death to another person, the police may conduct testing over your objections. Similarly, if you have at least two prior DWI convictions, or have been found guilty of intoxication assault, or intoxication manslaughter, a blood-alcohol test is considered mandatory in the event of any future arrest.

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Defending Your DWI Case

If you have been charged with a DWI in Galveston or elsewhere in Southeast Texas, there are many ways to defend your case. The truth is police officers are human beings who sometimes make mistakes. Many arrests take place at night when eyesight is compromised and perception is often far different than reality.

Tired, overworked officers have been known to incorrectly administer field sobriety tests that lead to false arrests. Additionally, faulty equipment and improperly trained technicians can produce inaccurate breathalyzer and blood test results.

In some cases, even if there is evidence suggesting a DWI may have occurred, the arrest itself was constitutionally illegal because the officer lacked “reasonable suspicion” to pull the defendant over in the first place.

Remember, most DWI cases start as routine traffic stops. The police cannot simply pull people over at random hoping to find a drunk driver. The officer must first observe an actual traffic violation, such as making an improper lane change or running a red light. If you can show the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate your traffic stop, that can be enough to get your DWI charges thrown out of court. These are just some of the reasons you need a Galveston DWI lawyer.

Speak with Our Experienced Galveston Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

Some people think a DWI charge is no big deal, especially if this is their first offense. But even if you manage to avoid jail time, having a DWI on your record can follow you for a long time and negatively affect many aspects of your life. The truth is, you have every right to fight a DWI charge in court, and a qualified Galveston DWI and drunk driving lawyer can help.

Galveston DWI lawyer Mark Diaz and his team will work tirelessly on your behalf to obtain the best possible outcome for your DWI case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation so we can sit down and learn more about your situation.

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