Our Dallas-Fort Worth DWI attorneys know how to fight these types of cases and build a strong case for your defense.
The lawyers at Hoeller McLaughlin PLLC are ready to help you recover from these charges and get your life back on track. Rather than facing harsh penalties, you have an opportunity to get your charges reduced or dismissed with a Fort Worth DWI lawyer on your side.
What Does Driving While Intoxicated Mean in Texas?
Your first driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense in Texas is typically a Class B misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 180 days in jail. The legal definition does not state the person has to be driving to face penalties for a DWI. The prosecutor only has to show the following things:
- The person who is being accused was there
- They were operating during the incident
- A motor vehicle was involved
- They were intoxicated at the time
Intoxication in this instance means that the accused person lacked their full mental or physical faculties because of alcohol or drugs, or that the person had a blood alcohol level of .08 or more.
The first definition of being intoxicated is subjective, which means the rules to convict you are broader. You may be charged with being intoxicated on any substance, even if you’re not. You may even face penalties if you’re sober but fail to take a sobriety test.
This is why it is important to reach out to the right law office regarding the help you may require after being arrested for a DWI.
Are You Required to Submit to a Breathalyzer Test?
Under the U.S. Constitution, it is within your rights to refuse any test if you’re pulled over for drinking and driving. But should you?
Failing either a Breathalyzer or blood test has dire consequences. You could lose your driver’s license for 90 days if it’s your first DWI offense or lose your driving privileges for up to a year if you’ve had any charges related to alcohol in the past ten years.
Normally, when you’re first pulled over of suspicion of DWI, you will have the choice to take either a breathalyzer test or standard field sobriety test. If you refuse both of these tests, you will be taken to the police station. At this point, with most of your options exhausted, it is often best to take the breath test.
Taking the Breathalyzer Test Might Be Better for Your DWI Defense
Usually, law enforcement won’t give you a blood test until after you’ve refused a Breathalyzer test. Once you’ve been hauled off to the station, however, you may as well take the Breathalyzer over the blood test for a few reason:
- You may not be eligible for a dismissal if you refuse a breathalyzer test
- Prosecutors may try to use your breath test refusal as evidence of your guilt
- Judges and juries often trust the results of blood tests more than breathalyzer tests, making it more difficult for your DWI lawyer to refute charges based on a blood test
- When your blood is drawn, they’ll test for other drugs, which can lead to a hybrid DWI/drug charge in Texas
In addition, when you’re at the police station and they draw your blood, they will probably draw two vials. The second is drawn in case there’s an issue or contamination with the first sample. That second vial can help remove any doubts about whether you were intoxicated. Because of this, you may have an easier time seeking a defense for a Breathalyzer test.
How a Fort Worth DWI Lawyer Can Challenge Your Blood Test Results
If you think the results are wrong, your defense lawyer in Fort Worth may be able to challenge your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test in court because test results can be inaccurate for any number of reasons. Below are just a few possible defenses:
- How much food was in your digestive tract when you were tested
- Your age and weight
- Testing methods have a margin for error
- You may have gotten a false positive
As an example, the equipment used by police to measure BAC is known to have a margin of error of 0.01 percent. That means it is possible that you were under the legal limit but were still pulled over and arrested for DWI based on faulty data from your BAC test.
When in a lab, sample contamination may be a factor. That’s especially likely when someone other than a technician does things like draw, package, or analyze your blood sample. If the person that drew your blood wasn’t properly trained to prevent outside contaminants, like bacteria on their hands, then your DWI lawyer may be able to challenge the test’s validity.
When a technician analyzes your blood sample and finds something abnormal in it, for example, high alcohol levels, they may fail to follow proper protocol for handling the results. For instance, they may delay filing a report which would bring the integrity of the sample under suspicion.
These are just a few of the reasons why you truly need a DWI lawyer in Fort Worth on your side. Your lawyer knows what to look for when it comes to BAC testing and getting your DWI dismissed in court.
Is it Possible to Have a DWI Dismissed in Texas?
Using a Fort Worth DWI attorney for your case is one of the best things you can do to fight a DWI charge and offers your best chances to get your charges reduced or dismissed. With a law office that has experience in these charges, you can allow them to work on proving various factors that help you avoid harsh penalties.
Having an outright dismissal of the charges is very rare, but the right defense can make a big difference for your case. Below are just a few options your DWI lawyer in Fort Worth may explore to defend your case:
- Lack of reasonable suspicion to detain the accused
- Lack of probable cause to arrest the accused
- The lack of a blood or breath test specimen
- Lack of probable cause to get a search warrant for a blood sample
- Providing false information in the search warrant
- Improper testing methods and lab techniques
- Not knowing your intoxication level at the time
- Having an overall lack of proof
Whether you want the case dismissed or your charges lessened, using a qualified, experienced law office to help you through this tough time is essential. They can find areas that may have been overlooked and might just help your case.
Your Fort Worth DWI Attorney’s Defense Strategies
In addition to challenging the results of BAC tests, there are other strategies that a Fort Worth defense lawyer may use to help you with your DWI charge. That includes challenging why you were stopped in the first place.
Police have to have a reasonable suspicion to stop you. They also need probable cause to arrest you or search your vehicle. If the police don’t have enough evidence to justify their actions, your DWI lawyer in Fort Worth might get your charges dismissed or reduced based on any of the following:
- Reasonable Suspicion – The officer’s reasons to suspect you of a crime must be reasonable. This means that an average person would consider it appropriate for an officer to question or detain a person under the same circumstances based on what they knew at the time they pulled you over.
- Medical Conditions – A medical condition may explain signs of intoxication. The symptoms you experienced may be due to something other than alcohol consumption. Some conditions that can cause this effect include diabetes, anxiety disorders like panic attacks, sleep apnea, or taking cold or flu medicine.
- Probable Cause – An experienced DWI lawyer in Fort Worth TX can challenge whether there was probable cause for pulling you over. For example, they may argue the officer did not witness any traffic violations before stopping you, and show that it was unreasonable for them to believe that you had committed a crime.
This is the primary reason why lawyers check dashcam footage before going into court. It gives us insight into how law enforcement officers were operating when they detained you.
Even if police don’t make any mistakes, they may still be wrong about their conclusions when they pull you over on suspicion of drunk driving. A defense lawyer in Fort Worth will know how to challenge these types of cases in court so that you can avoid conviction and save yourself from going to jail, license suspension or other penalties associated with a DWI conviction.
Disputing the Officer’s Interpretation of Your Driving
When you’re pulled over by a police officer, they may make note of your behavior before and during the traffic stop. These are called subjective observations, because they are based on an individual officer’s opinion.
Your appearance, including your hair and clothes, can affect the officer’s perception of you. How they perceive you will be influenced by what they see. But in DWI cases, it’s important to remember that the officer’s opinion of your appearance isn’t always accurate.
The officer may be biased or prejudiced against certain people based on factors like their race, gender, and class. In these situations, it can be difficult for them to give unbiased opinions about people who don’t fit their stereotypes or expectations.
You may also have a chance to challenge the officer’s perception of your speech patterns, mannerisms, body language and attitude. For instance, the officer may have observed you were unable to stand steady or were slurring your words. For some, this is simply a part of a disability, not a sign of impairment.
your dwi lawyer in fort worth could then argue that there is no correlation between being unable to stand straight or speak clearly and legally intoxicated under Texas law. These are indicators someone has had some alcoholic drinks, but does not necessarily mean they drunk enough be impaired, they’re at all.
Additionally, how the officer perceived your body language and attitude may also have influenced their decision to charge you with a DWI. The DWI arrest report will specifically identify the factors that led the officer to conclude that you were driving while intoxicated.
The report might include statements about your eyes being bloodshot or glassy, but these conditions can also be a sign that you were overworked and tired because you have to hold down two jobs to support your family. They can also be signs of a medical condition.
Your Fort Worth DWI attorney will ask you about your life circumstances and compare them to what the officer said about you and determine if there were any subjective observations made that could lead to a dismissal of your DWI charges.
Evidence a DWI Lawyer in Fort Worth Will Use in Your Defense
When you’re preparing to defend your case in court, you and your lawyer will need to review all evidence for your case. This may include evidence that proves you were not intoxicated, evidence that proves you were not impaired, or evidence that proves that someone else was actually driving the vehicle.
Independent Blood Tests
Your Fort Worth DWI attorney may ask if you got your own blood test done at the hospital and present it as evidence. This can be helpful if there is no other evidence against you or if there are problems with the prosecution’s evidence.
An independent test is a sample of your blood or urine taken after you were arrested and before any tests were done by law enforcement officers. These test results can be key, especially if there’s any question of validity with the other test.
Witnesses are crucial to any DWI defense. To get this evidence, a diligent Fort Worth DWI attorney will take the time to talk to witnesses that may be able to help you prove your innocence. They may ask for them to take the following steps:
- Write down what they saw
- Describe the incident in detail
- Give any indication that they personally observed any signs of intoxication
- Recall if they smelled alcohol on your breath saw beer cans in your car
- Sign a sworn statement
Witnesses or passengers in the vehicle with you can also provide photos or video that show that you were not intoxicated at the time of driving. This means that if your blood alcohol concentration test results are positive, but the video footage shows that there were no signs of intoxication, we may still be able to seek an acquittal.
Your own video footage from a passenger’s phone can also prove that you were not even the person behind the wheel when the vehicle was pulled over. Video evidence can be a key part of avoiding penalties for a DWI charge.
Expert Witness Testimony
Your DWI lawyer in Fort Worth can also launch an effective defense by calling in an expert witness.
A Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer is familiar with expert witnesses, who can provide more information about your charges. We may call a toxicologist to testify on the BAC level found in your body, for example. They may tell the court how much alcohol would have been in your system at the time of arrest and whether you were legally intoxicated.
If you face a hybrid DWI/drug charge, your DWI lawyer may also want to call an expert witness to discuss the validity of any other drug tests you took. These tests may be fallible, and an expert witness can review and comment on the validity of your drug test.
Options to Avoid Severe DWI Penalties
Pretrial diversion programs are offered by the court system to eligible nonviolent offenders who face a DWI charge. These programs allow you to avoid jail time by completing other requirements. These may include community service and substance abuse treatment programs.
If you’re unable to avoid a conviction, your lawyer can seek out probation for your case. Probation offers you the chance to avoid time behind bars, in exchange for following certain rules. For example, you may not be allowed to purchase alcohol or visit bars. If you fail to follow the conditions of a probation agreement, you may be sent to prison to finish your sentence.
But these aren’t the first line of defense for your case. If you’ve been accused of drinking and driving, your lawyer will focus on building the best defense for your case. We’re ready to work with you to build your case and get the results you need. Reach out for your lawyer’s help before you accept a plea bargain, pretrial diversion program, or other options.
Call a Fort Worth DWI Attorney for a Strong Defense
If you or a loved one is facing drunk driving charges, you need to act fast because the clock starts ticking as soon as your arrest and time quickly runs out.
Fortunately, there are many ways to challenge a DWI arrest, and it’s important that your Fort Worth DWI attorney understands how your case can be challenged.
Whether it’s your first DWI or you’re a repeat offender facing felony charges, you need a DWI attorney in Fort Worth who will fight for your future. At Hoeller McLaughlin PLLC, we provide aggressive representation and will do everything we can to get your case dismissed or charges reduced.
If you would like more information about a Fort Worth DWI lawyer that gets results, call 817-334-7900 or fill out the following online contact form.
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Fort Worth DWI FAQ
Struggling to get answers after you’re charged with a DWI? We’re here to help. Reach out to a lawyer for the help you need, and check out some of our most commonly-asked questions for guidance in the meantime.
What if I’m a minor who was pulled over and arrested?
Minors typically have stricter limits and tougher laws on drinking and driving. Texas has a zero tolerance policy for minors, which means any alcohol in your system can lead to an arrest. You may even be tried as an adult. Talk to your lawyer about avoiding these harsher penalties.
Will I lose my license if I’m convicted?
Generally, you’ll face a license suspension if you’re convicted of a DWI. If this isn’t your first offense, you may even face a revocation, which means you may need to take extra steps to get your license reinstated. Your DWI attorney can help you avoid losing your driving privileges.
Will a DWI conviction impact my insurance policy?
If you’re convicted of a DWI, your insurance company may be notified of the incident. This conviction will play a part in your insurance policy costs. In some cases, your insurance policy may become unaffordable. In other cases, you may be denied insurance coverage.
What does it mean to be intoxicated according to Texas?
In Texas, intoxication is defined as not having the normal use of your mental or physical senses due to the use of alcohol, drugs, a controlled substance, or combination of these substances. It is also defined as having a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08 or higher. If this has been proven to be true, that’s all the prosecution needs to charge you.
What’s the difference between a DWI and DUI?
Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are separate charges, but they do have a clear difference. You have to be under the legal drinking age of 21, be operating a motor vehicle, and have any amount of alcohol in your system in Texas to be charged with a DUI. You do not have to be intoxicated to be charged with a DUI. DWIs happen when you are over the age of 21 and are operating a motor vehicle. You do have to be over the legal limit for alcohol or substances in order to be charged with this.
What should I do if I’ve been stopped by the police after drinking?
You should ensure you’re being respectful of the office at all times, regardless of the situation. Staying calm and reasonable in this situation can help your case. You do not have to answer any questions and can request a lawyer before doing so. In most scenarios, it is best to speak with your attorney before admitting anything to the officer. You don’t want what you say to come up in court and cause you to have to spend time in jail for these actions.
If I’m stopped for a DWI, how soon can I speak with an attorney?
When you’re pulled over and accused of a DWI, it’s vital to speak with your lawyer as soon as possible following your arrest. The police have to do an initial investigation and book you in jail before you’re able to reach out. Remember that you should always be respectful to the police, but not to answer any questions or tests they may ask you to do. This information may be used against you if you choose to do so.
Can I refuse a field sobriety test?
Even if you’ve only had one drink and think you could pass a field sobriety test, the police can still use any information they gather. While you’re allowed to decline a sobriety test, however, yo may be in a more difficult situation if you avoid the test. Your license may be suspended for up to two years in severe cases for refusing to take a Breathalyzer test. If this happens, you have the right to request a hearing to reverse this. You have to file for this within fifteen days of your arrest, so talk to your lawyer as soon as possible or let your lawyer handle the results of your Breathalyzer test.
What happens if I am convicted of a DWI?
Texas law states that it is mandatory to do jail time if convicted of a DWI. This jail time can range from three days to up to ten years depending on the amount of times you’ve been convicted of a DWI. You may also face heavy fines between $2,000 to $10,000. Probation, suspension of your license, and an ignition interlock device may also be imposed on you if found guilty. The installation fee of the interlock device is also yours to cover.
Do I have to have an ignition interlock device installed?
If this is your first offense, the judge may be shown leniency and may not have to have this device installed onto your vehicle. If you have been convicted multiple times, you will have to have one installed before you’re let out of jail. You also will not be able to drive any vehicle that doesn’t have one installed.
What if I’m arrested for a DWI with a child in the vehicle?
If you’re arrested and found to be drinking while under the influence or while intoxicated, the offense is no longer a misdemeanor. If the minor is under the age of 14, you may be convicted of a felony instead.