When it comes to drinking and driving, no one is safe from the law. Anyone can get charged with a DWI – regardless of your name, position, or level of celebrity.
Case-in-point: this past Memorial Day, Nolan Carroll, a cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, was arrested for driving while intoxicated at just past 2 a.m. Carroll recently left the Philadelphia Eagles and signed with Dallas for $10 million over three years, so maybe he was celebrating.
Dallas Police say he was stopped on McKinney Avenue in Uptown for “committing a traffic violation,” although that specific traffic violation isn’t mentioned. Over 12 hours later, at 2:45 p.m., he posted bond and was released.
Or how about this one. Remember when Randy Travis, the country music star, was arrested in 2012 for DWI in North Texas after he was found naked near his home in Tioga? When the police discovered Travis, they said he had a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath and several signs of intoxication.” Earlier that year, Travis was also arrested for another alcohol-related incident when he was found with a bottle of wine in a parked car just after the Super Bowl.
Sports stars, music legends, actors and actresses, politicians, police chiefs, and numerous other higher profile people have been charged with a DWI. What’s the point? If they can get a DWI, then you can get a DWI as well. So it’s important to know how you can get charged, the potential penalties involved, and how you can fight back.
DWI Laws in Texas
What exactly does it mean to be “driving while intoxicated” here in Texas?
According to Title 10, Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code, intoxicated means “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body. More specifically, in relation to alcohol, intoxicated also means having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
When a police officer pulls you over for suspicion of drunk driving or some other kind of traffic violation, they will be looking for signs of intoxication. These signs could be anything related to your appearance and behavior, from bloodshot or glassy eyes to a blank stare, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, slow response time due to drowsiness, restlessness, agitation, or belligerence.
If an officer believes you are intoxicated based on his observations, he can then ask you to submit to a field sobriety or chemical test. Based on the results of these tests and the other so-called evidence, an officer can decide to arrest you for a DWI.
What Are the Penalties for a Texas DWI?
Being convicted of a DWI in Texas can be detrimental to your personal and professional life. Not only does it require time and money, getting a DWI could also potentially mean jail time, losing your license and your job, not being able to provide for your family, and tarnishing your good name.
If you’re nabbed for a DWI for the very first time, you will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by 3 to 180 days in jail, fines up to $2,000, and a license suspension for at least 90 days – and up to one year. You might also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car.
Subsequent DWI convictions have harsher penalties: more jail time, higher fines, and longer license suspensions. A second DWI is a Class A misdemeanor, but a third DWI or a DWI with a minor passenger is a third degree felony or a state jail felony, respectively.
Fighting and Defending DWI Charges
Getting charged with a DWI can be an overwhelming experience, but a qualified Texas DWI lawyer can help ameliorate the situation by looking at the fine details of your case and providing a top-notch defense to get those charges reduced or dismissed.
A knowledgeable attorney with proven results will determine if the arresting officer made a legal or illegal stop. He will check if you were read your Miranda rights upon arrest. He will challenge the accuracy of the field sobriety test or Breathalyzer results. He will look into defective equipment, improper storage, and the training of every officer who took even a miniscule part in handling your case.
With an experienced lawyer by your side, advocating and protecting your rights, you can rest assured knowing you will get the best possible results for your DWI charge.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.