Planning to drive home from a New Year’s Eve party this year? Consider this a friendly little reminder that Texas police will be watching for drivers who have had too much to drink.
“Duh,” you’re probably thinking. “Of course the cops are going to be watching on a night like New Year’s Eve.”
What you might not realize, though, is just how robust of a system law enforcement officials are rolling out to keep drunk drivers off the road – and hit offenders with DWI charges.
Extra Ft. Worth Police Measures During New Year’s Eve
The Fort Worth police unit has a special patrol that monitors the West 7th entertainment district, home to many bars and clubs. They will also have extra patrols on the city highways.
Additionally, the police participate in no-refusal operations on New Year’s Eve. This means that drivers who are pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxication will only be offered a blood test, not a breath test. If drivers refuse this test, the police can secure immediate warrants to draw blood samples.
What You Should Know about Texas DWI Laws in Texas Before You Head Out for New Year’s
You probably know that you are considered legally intoxicated if you have at least a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration, or any combination of drugs and alcohol in your system. However, that doesn’t mean you have a clear understanding of all the different ways you might violate our state’s drinking and driving laws, or what consequences you could face if you get charged.
If an open container of alcohol is found in your vehicle at a traffic stop, you could be fined up to $500.
If you are charged with drinking and driving and a child under the age of 15 is found in your vehicle, you can also be charged with child endangerment. A conviction will result in the loss of your driver’s license for 180 days, a fine of up to $10,000, and up to two years of incarceration in the Texas state jail system.
First Offense DWI
For a first conviction of DWI in Texas, you will lose your driver’s license for up to one year. You may be required to stay in jail between three and 180 days, and you will be required to pay a fine of up to $2,000. To regain and retain your driver’s license after the revocation period, you will need to pay an annual fee of either $1,000 or $2,000 for three years.
Second Offense DWI
For a second conviction of DWI, you will lose your driver’s license for up to two years. You may be required to stay in jail between one month and one year, and you will be required to pay a fine of up to $4,000. To regain and retain your driver’s license after the revocation period, you will need to pay an annual fee of either $1,000, $1,500 or, $2,000 for three years.
Third Offense DWI
For a third conviction of DWI, you will lose your driver’s license for up to two years. You will serve a prison sentence of two to 10 years. You will be required to pay a fine of up to $10,000. To regain and retain your driver’s license after the revocation period, you will need to pay an annual fee of either $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for three years.
If you have two or more DWI convictions within five years, the judge may require you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This device prevents vehicle operation if your blood alcohol content is above the set limit.
Fighting a Texas DWI Charge
A skilled Ft. Worth criminal attorney can help you fight to get your charges reduced or dropped with an aggressive defense. Some of the most common and effective strategies include:
Field Sobriety Test Issues
If the police required you to perform a field sobriety test, there are many ways that the test could have shown a false positive. For example, if you have a physical impairment, you may not be able to balance on one leg even when you are sober.
Failure to Read Miranda Rights
Did you hear the phrase “You have the right to remain silent” at the time of your arrest? If not, the police did not follow protocol in arresting you and any statements you made may not be used against you.
Problems with Blood Sample
A blood sample must be properly collected, transported, and stored to prevent contamination. If your attorney can effectively argue that there may be problems with the blood sample, it could help your case – and may even be removed from evidence altogether.
Your situation may be that you had to drive due to necessity. As an example, perhaps you were the only one available to drive a woman in labor to the hospital.
If someone forced you to drive while intoxicated upon the threat of harm to yourself or your loved ones, you may be able to use this defense.
Depending on the specifics of your situation, any of these could potentially benefit your case. That being said, you know what the best defense is: don’t drink and drive. If you’re going out, start planning now for how you’re going to get home – or where you’ll spend the night. Taking a little time now to think about it can save you from a huge headache later.
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.