Classifications of DWI Offenders
I want to depart for a moment from the legalities of the law on DWI and give a personal opinion… As I have stated in another section, many of my clients have become my friends. I LIKE my clients. They’re good folks…who just made a bad judgement call or just had bad luck!
I have come to the conclusion that there are three types of DWI ‘offenders’….
1. Bad LifeStyle…
This is the ‘Good ‘ol Boy’ who would give you the shirt off his back, whether you needed it or not, or change your tire in a howling rainstorm…but, he just likes the feeling of the ‘buzz’ and then gets behind the wheel. This boy just needs to stay off the road! He’s a danger to everyone on the road…and himself, when he’s behind the wheel.
2. Bad Judgment…
This is where Bubba goes to JoeBob’s house for the Super Bowl and they have some brews (usually BudLight, Coors Light or Keystone Light) while they’re watching the game, and when it’s over, Bubba says, “I’m goin’ home, now. I’sh fine. Shhure wash shwell washin’ duh game wish yew.” Then, he gets pulled over… A taxi or a night over at JoeBob’s house would have been cheaper than the bondsman’s fee, lawyer’s fee and court costs, not to mention PROBATION!
3. Then, there’s Bad Luck!…
This is where you take your darlin’ wife to a great restaurant and have a glass of wine with your pasta, or a beer with your steak…and on the way home the Police pull you over and say, “Sir, I stopped you because your right tail light is out…and ….say, have you been drinking? You have alcohol on your breath. Please step to the rear of your vehicle…and then it begins…..
Most of my clients fit the last classification…that could be me…. or you!
Classifications of DWI Offenses and DWI Penalties
Regardless of what your reason is for getting pulled over and charged with DWI, Texas takes a hardline approach to prosecuting it. It’s a crime. Since so many lives are needlessly destroyed because someone out there made a terrible call, the law feels that a slap on the wrist isn’t going to do the trick. That means that they that they’ll charge you even on the suspicion of a DWI. But there are ways to protect yourself.
For a first offense in Texas, you can receive a fine of up to $2000 and a jail sentence of up to 180 days. Circumstances can be mitigated or aggravated on the basis of whether or not there was a minor in the vehicle, if anyone was injured in the incident, or if your BAC was greater than .15. In every state across the U.S., you are legally considered drunk with a BAC of .08. For a BAC of over .15, you’re considered completely wasted. If your BAC is over .15, then you’ll face double the penalties (i.e., up to a year in jail and a $4000 fine).
If your BAC is between .08 and .14, you can also face a license suspension of between 90 days and a year.
If you receive a second DWI, the penalties can double. You will face a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine up to $4000. Your license can be suspended for up to 2 years. You may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car and receive mandatory treatment from an alcohol or drug abuse center.
By the time you’ve been convicted a third time, the stakes have risen significantly. You will be charged with a felony and face a fine of up to $10,000. You can face 2 to 10 years in state prison (not county jail). A felony conviction will disqualify you from voting or possessing a firearm.
With a DWI charge, the stakes are very high. This is especially true in cases where someone was injured and if someone is killed, you can face a lengthy prison sentence. It’s important to understand how police officers make a determination on whether or not a person was driving drunk and why the numbers cannot always be trusted.
This is especially true of roadside breathalyzers which do not constitute a scientific proof of inebriation. Roadside sobriety tests are likewise faulty and designed to fail you. How can a DWI defense lawyer defend you from a DWI charge?
Challenge the Legality of the Stop
A police officer must have probable cause in order to pull over a vehicle. There must be a reasonable suspicion that you have broken some law. If there is no reasonable suspicion, then the stop is illegal and any evidence that is gathered against you during an illegal stop will be thrown out of court.
Only One Valid Test for Determining BAC
There is only one valid test for determining your blood alcohol content. That is by conducting a blood test. You cannot refuse this blood test without the state automatically revoking your license and assuming you are guilty or they will simply obtain a warrant and draw the blood by force. Field sobriety tests and breathalyzers are a different story. Breathalyzers are not an accurate way to determine someone’s BAC and have a 20% standard of error. Field sobriety tests such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus and one-legged stand are designed to fail. They may be indications of another problem such as a sprained ankle. They prove absolutely nothing.
However, police officers will administer these tests to make an arrest. Regardless of whether or not you comply, if the police officer wants to charge you with DWI, they will need to take a blood test. This is because blood tests are the only method that produce medical or scientific results that are consistent and measurable. Field sobriety tests rely on the subjective observations of the police officer. And breathalyzers are a one-size-fits-all solution that may prove that a 350 lb man is drunk after three beers. They do not produce valid scientific results.
Blood tests work by drawing a specific amount of blood and then measuring the ratio of alcohol in it by evaporating the alcohol. The process is known as gas chromatography. If the blood is not stored properly or the wrong amount of blood is taken, it can skew the results heavily against you.
Talk to a East Texas DWI Attorney Who Understands the Stakes
There are any number of reasons why good people are charged with DWI in Texas. Blood tests, field sobriety tests, and breathalyzers can all give false positives if they are not conducted properly. Breathalyzers and field sobriety tests can give false positives even when they are conducted properly. It’s important to understand that you do have rights and that the police need to abide by the letter of the law when pulling you over or forcibly extracting your blood.
John Eastland Attorney at Law has helped a number of good Texans get reduced sentences or beat bogus charges across East Texas. If you’ve been charged with DWI, your future hangs in the balance. The penalties for DWI are stiff. The damage to your reputation can be high. Speak to an attorney with a proven track record of success and make sure that you get a result that you can live with.