Driving While Intoxicated: The Penalties & What You Can Do
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) can result in lifelong consequences if anything goes wrong. It can also mean you face some tough penalties including the fact that you can be banned from driving for a long time. You may be involved in a car accident that may result in killing yourself, killing somebody else or end up injuring someone for life. If you are stopped and convicted of DWI, then the possible penalties of this arrest can include mandatory jail sentences, probation, lifetime criminal records, driver’s license suspension, massive fines & financial burdens, court costs, driver’s license surcharges in excess of $1.000.00 per year for three years.
DWI charges are an ever increasing fact of American society today. Several organizations continue to help the law makers increase the penalties and regulations.
Case Example: DWI in Texas
Driving While Intoxicated ( DWI ), will be treated by the courts in Texas as a felony or a misdemeanor depending upon the circumstances of the case, and the prior conviction record of the accused.
DWI, when a first offense, is a Class B Misdemeanor in the State of Texas. The applicable Texas Penal Code section provides that “A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.”
Jury trials are available to those accused of DWI in Texas. In order to gain a conviction, the prosecutor must convince all jurors of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To do so, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant, on or about a particular date was:
- Operating a motor vehicle
- In a public place (street, highway, beach, parking lot, etc)
- In a particular county – While intoxicated
The Texas legislature has specifically defined the term “intoxication” as it relates to DWI cases. There are two (2) definitions:
- 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; or
- Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The law allows for intoxication by way of any intoxicating substance. It is no defense that the intoxicating substance was a prescribed drug; if any substance, legal or illegal, deprives a driver of the normal use of mental or physical faculties, the case may be prosecuted.
Texas DWI Charges
There is a dramatic increase in the number of DWI Task Forces and Enforcement Teams emerging throughout Texas and the rest of the United States including Austin Police Department forming their own DWI Enforcement Team. These task forces are often federally funded and the officers themselves are required to make arrests in order to keep the funding available.
Many people do not put much into hiring a lawyer to help them when they are charged with DWI. Most of these people simply plead guilty and receive a probated sentence. Think of the consequences if you do not hire a lawyer. Suppose some years later, you get stopped, the officer smells what he believes is alcohol on your breath and, after running your license, sees you had a prior conviction for DWI / DUI. It can mean great trouble for you.
The web of red tape can be mind-boggling to less experienced lawyers let alone the poor citizen that’s just been arrested for DWI.The web of red tape and numerous proverbial hoops to jump through is mind-boggling even to less experienced lawyers, much less the poor citizen who has just been arrested.
Texas DWI Penalties
DWI First Offense:
A first-offense conviction includes a fine not to exceed $2000.00 and/or the possibility of serving jail time from 3 days to 180 days, and a driver’s license suspension of 90 to 365 days. (Class B Misdemeanor)
DWI Second Offense:
The punishment range increases to no more than a $4000.00 fine and/or jail from 30 days to one year, and a possible driver’s license suspension ranging from 180 days to 2 years. (Class A Misdemeanor)
DWI Third Offense:
Here you may receive a fine up to $10,000.00 and/or 2 to 10 years of imprisonment, and suspension of your driver’s license ranging from 180 days to 2 years. (3rd Degree Felony)
DWI with an open alcohol container (First Offense):
In addition to the penalty referenced above there is a minimum of 6 days in jail and a fine of no more than $2000.00 (Class B Misdemeanor)
DWI with an accident where serious bodily injury occurred as a proximate cause of the intoxication:
This crime is called “intoxication assault,” and upon conviction you may serve a minimum of 2 years and up to a maximum of 10 years in jail. Additionally, you may have to pay a fine up to $10,000.00 (Third Degree Felony)
DWI where a death has occurred as a proximate cause of the intoxication: this crime is called “intoxication manslaughter.”
Upon conviction you may have to pay a fine up to $10,000.00 and/or be imprisoned from 2 to 20 years (Intoxication Manslaughter or Manslaughter with use of Deadly Weapon are both 2nd Degree Felonies
Do Not Think About It: Choose a Specialist DWI Attorney Straight Away!
Considering all the penalties that are there for those who are charged with DWI, hiring an attorney with a working knowledge on the specialized area of DWI is of the utmost importance. Choose an attorney who is up to date on Texas’s ever-changing DWI laws. They will be better able defend you against this serious crime. Ideally choose DWI defense lawyers that receive extensive training on both the field sobriety tests and chemical tests that are used by law enforcement to make a DWI arrest. Just remember that there are lawyers that are multilingual that can help you if you do not speak English as a first language.
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