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Have You Been Charged With DWI?

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is against the law in Texas. Facing a DWI charge in Fort Worth, Texas carries potentially life-altering consequences. You need an experienced lawyer on your side.

Many Texas drivers know about DWIs, but they often underappreciate the severity of the consequences. The cost of a DWI in Texas can be much more than just the fine. A DWI can disrupt your career and your ability to commute to work. It is absolutely essential that you know DWI laws and take the right steps to protect yourself. You’ve come to the right place.

Our DWI attorneys have tried over 400 DWI jury trials. Don’t delay in getting the expert representation you need. Call us now for a free consultation about your case.

You must act fast to prevent losing your driver’s license. You only have 15 days from the date of your arrest to schedule an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. Contact us now to secure your license by calling 817-826-9885.

Why Hire a Lawyer Focusing on DWI Defense?

A general practice attorney may not provide you the experience necessary to adequately represent you.

It is common practice to assign a team of prosecutors to your case at trial. We even the odds by ensuring you’ll be defended by an experienced team of DWI defense attorneys.

⇒Together We’ve Tried Over 400 DWI Jury Trials⇐

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Is Illegal

In Texas, you are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle in a public place while you are intoxicated.

A motor vehicle means: a car, truck, motorcycle, or anything that is used to transport people on a highway.

public place means: a street, highway, or any place where the public has access to.

Most importantly, Intoxicated means either of the following:

  • You do not have the normal use of your mental or physical abilities due to alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, or any combination of them.
  • You have an alcohol concentration of .08 or more as measured by your:
    • Breath(grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath),
    • Blood(grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood), or
    • Urine (grams of alcohol per 67 milliliters of urine)

DWI Punishment under Texas Law

Punishment for a DWI depends on your level of intoxication, the circumstances of the incident, and your prior offenses. Read our post on how multiple DWI penalties in Texas stack up.

What might happen to you if you are convicted of DWI:

1st DWI (Class B Misdemeanor)

  • Jail: 3 – 180 Days
  • Fine: Up To $2,000
  • Court Costs: Up To $1,500 (Approximate)
  • Texas Driver Responsibility Program (Surcharge For License Reinstatement): $1,000 – $2,000
  • License Suspension: Up To 1 Year

2nd DWI (Class A Misdemeanor)

  • Jail: 30 Days – 1 Year
  • Fine: Up To $4,000
  • Court Costs: Up To $1,500 (Approximate)
  • Texas Driver Responsibility Program (Surcharge For License Reinstatement): $1,500 – $2,000
  • License Suspension: Up To 2 Years

3rd DWI (Third Degree Felony)

  • Jail: 2 – 10 Years
  • Fine: Up To $10,000
  • Court Costs: Up To $1,500 (Approximate)
  • Texas Driver Responsibility Program (Surcharge For License Reinstatement): $2,000+
  • License Suspension: Up To 2 Years

4th DWI (Second Degree Felony)

  • Jail: 2 – 20 Years
  • Fine: Up To $10,000
  • Court Costs: Up To $1,500 (Approximate)
  • Texas Driver Responsibility Program (Surcharge For License Reinstatement): $2,000+
  • License Suspension: Up To 2 Years

Judges and Prosecutors in Texas have a lot of discretion when it comes to your punishment. Depending on your circumstances, you might be granted a more lenient sentence. Instead of being ordered to serve time behind bars, you might be ordered to undergo probation (generally between six months and two years), community service, and completion of a DWI awareness program. Probation generally costs between $50 and $100 per month. An alcohol education course runs between $100 and $200. To the extent that alcohol-related treatment and rehabilitation is required, this could cost you thousands of dollars.

You might also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car. This is used to determine your BAC before you drive your car. Notably, an IID is required as a condition of you being released on bail if you are a repeat DWI offender or you are charged with a felony DWI. An IID costs between $75 and $100 per month excluding the costs of repairs.

The police might have your car towed and impounded. A tow charge runs between $250 and $500 while an impoundment fee runs about $25 per day.

Why Hire A DWI Attorney?

Your Freedom Is At Stake

The more severe your jail sentence, the less freedom you have. This can lead to strained relationships with your family members. If you do not have a skilled DWI attorney on your side, then you run the risk of a longer jail sentence.

Your Career Is At Stake

Even if you don’t get a long jail sentence, you could lose your job. A DWI conviction could follow you for the rest of your life. You may run into trouble when applying for a job, loan or a lease because a DWI conviction will show up on your criminal background check.

Will a DWI Affect My Job?

The answer is that it depends. If you work in the transportation industry or have a job that exposes you to the public eye, you are more likely to suffer employment consequences.

Texas is an “at-will” employment state. In the absence of an express agreement, the employer can terminate the employee for any reason at all.

Your employer is completely within their rights to fire you for a DWI arrest or conviction.

DWIs and Background Checks in Texas

A DWI will show up on a criminal background check. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, DWI arrests remain on your criminal background for up to seven years. DWI convictions are worse, though – they remain on your criminal record forever.

Generally, federal law prohibits employers from refusing to hire an applicant strictly due to a DWI conviction. However, there are exceptions to this for workers in the nursing, healthcare, childcare, and transportation industries.

Even though it is illegal to toss your application expressly for a DWI conviction, it’s all too easy for prospective employers to find “other reasons” not to hire you if you have a DWI on your record.

Your Driving Privileges Are At Stake

When you are arrested for DWI, your license will be suspended unless you challenge this suspension at a hearing and fight the charge. This requires that you prove that the officer lacked probable cause in arresting you. A skilled DWI attorney can poke holes in the police’s testimony and raise serious questions about whether they had proper justification. An attorney can also fight to shorten your license suspension help you keep limited driving privileges.

A Novice Attorney Might Make Serious Mistakes Pre-Trial

You’ll likely have to attend a number of hearings. These hearings involve your attorney’s requests for evidence on your case, and involve the resolution of certain contested matters before trial. If your attorney is not familiar with DWI laws or taking cases to trial, they may not request useful evidence that meaningfully goes toward your defense. They may also have trouble analyzing and presenting evidence for your defense.

You Might Take A Bad Deal

You’ll likely be presented with a plea bargain by the district attorney, which would involve you pleading guilty in exchange for a less severe punishment. However, there might be important evidence that points to you not committing the offense. There could be perfectly valid reasons to contest the DWI charge, but your attorney might not know about this if they are not well versed on DWI laws. If you give up too early, you could end up with harsher consequences than you may receive if you negotiate more vigorously with the district attorney or take your case to trial.

You Might Get Destroyed In Trial

An unprepared lawyer could ruin your DWI case. If your case goes to trial, it is imperative for your attorney to put on the best defense possible. This might be a tall order for some attorneys who aren’t used to the courtroom or are unaware of less common defenses.

You Might Not Be Able To Afford A Conviction

DWIs can be expensive, and many people cannot afford the financial blow. You could avoid a financial calamity by having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney fighting your charges. An incompetent attorney can cost you a lot of money in more ways than one.

Defenses For A DWI Charge

The district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in control of your vehicle and that you were intoxicated. If the district attorney cannot prove this, you cannot be convicted of DWI. There are certain valuable defense strategies that can really help weaken the district attorney’s entire case against you. Below are some of the most important defenses that might be applicable in your case.

You Weren’t Driving Or Operating The Motor Vehicle

If you were not driving the car, then you should be able to defend against a DWI conviction. A successful defense in this respect means showing that you were not driving your car and that you were not in control of it. For example, if the police see you playing beer pong next to your car while at your friend’s house, then the police might arrest you for DWI.

However, your attorney could show that your keys were inside of your friend’s house and that you planned on staying at your friend’s house overnight to sober up. If you can cast doubt on the district attorney’s theory of you operating your car, then you might be able to stave off a DWI conviction.

Was Your DWI Traffic Stop Legal?

If the arresting officer did not have a reason compelling enough to pull you over before your arrest, the DWI charges and any other violations you incurred after the stop could all be inadmissible in Court. That means the charges against you would be dropped or the case would be dismissed.

First you need to know how Texas law defines a legal traffic stop and what is required before an officer pulls you over. It is likely that you were stopped after a police officer noticed something suspicious about your driving or about your vehicle.

Probably Cause vs. Reasonable Suspicion

It is a common misconception to think that a police officer needs probable cause to make a traffic stop. In reality, Texas law merely requires reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based upon articulable facts (usually provided by a police officer) for the police officer to initiate a traffic stop.

If the basis for a traffic stop is merely a hunch, an unfounded suspicion, or curiosity as to what you were doing, the stop will be deemed illegal. Any evidence collected after the stop will be prohibited from being used against you.

What Legal Reasons Can Police Pull You Over for in a DWI Stop?

  • Expired Inspection Sticker
  • Broken Headlight
  • Expired Registration
  • Failing to Indicate with Turn Signals
  • Running Your Plates & Finding Active Warrants
  • Speeding
  • Running a Red Light
  • Driving Recklessly
  • Broken Brake Light or Tail Light

Any violation of traffic laws or issues with your car that create a safety concern can warrant a legal stop.

What Is The Most Common Trigger for a Legal Stop Before DWI Arrest?

The most common reason is a traffic violation. If you were speeding, running a red light or changing lanes without using a turn signal, the police officer will always be justified in making a traffic stop. If you were driving with an expired inspection sticker, a broken tail light or any other minor infraction (that may or may not be an actual crime), the police officer will legally be permitted to make a traffic stop.

You Were Not Administered A Miranda Warning Or Implied Consent Warning

If you are arrested and asked to submit to a chemical test, the police have to warn you about what happens if you don’t comply. If the police did not warn you about these consequences, then this could serve as a defense in your DWI case.

A Miranda warning is where the police tell you that you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say can be used against you in a court of law, and that you have the right to an attorney when the police question you. If you were not read a Miranda warning during the time that you were both in police custody and subjected to an interrogation, then any incriminating statement that you made (e.g. “I shouldn’t have had whiskey”) might be excluded (suppressed) at trial.

You Took An Inaccurate, Defective Or Improperly Handled Breathalyzer Test

For a breathalyzer to be admissible in court, the following requirements generally apply:

  • The breathalyzer has to be deemed an acceptable device by the State of Texas.
  • The device has to be properly checked and maintained for accuracy.
  • The person who administers the test has to be certified in using that device.
  • The person has to administer the test based on the training that they receive.
  • Immediately prior to the reading, the person has to make sure that you are not vomiting, burping, smoking or eating.
  • Multiple tests have to be administered – and the readings have to be within close proximity to each other (e.g. two BAC readings that are within .02 of each other).

Your attorney could challenge the breathalyzer test by showing that the equipment was faulty or not handled properly. Your attorney could seek out the breathalyzer records. If the test is deemed invalid by the court, the district attorney might not be able to land a DWI conviction.

Some underlying health conditions could also affect a BAC reading. If you have diabetes, then the ketones in your breath might have thrown off the breathalyzer results. If you had mouthwash or any other chemicals in your system, this could have rendered a breathalyzer test inaccurate.

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 Criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, 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. He has been named one of the 3 Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, recognized by ExpertiseNational Trial LawyersAvvo, and others, and he is Lead Counsel rated.

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The Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC P.L.L.C

Phone: 817-877-5200
Address: 115 W 2nd St #201, Fort Worth, TX 76102