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What Does It Mean to Be Intoxicated in the State of Texas?

The State of Texas defines “intoxication” as 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. It also defines it as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. The Prosecution is only tasked with proving that a driver falls into one of these definitions. 

What Are the Differences Between a DWI and a DUI?

Though similar, there is a clear difference between Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Texas. To be charged with a DUI, you must be under the legal drinking age of 21, be arrested while operating a motor vehicle in a public place, and have any amount of alcohol detected in your system. It is important to note that you do not have to be intoxicated to be charged with a DUI. DWI charges indicate that you are over the age of 21, and operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. 

If Stopped by the Police After Drinking, What Should I Do?

In any circumstance, it is imperative that you are respectful of the law enforcement officer that has pulled you over. You do not have to answer any of the officer’s questions and can request to speak with your attorney before facing any questions. However, if you have only had one or two drinks, in some instances, it may be okay to let the officer know this as this is not a clear indication of intoxication. Though in most scenarios, it is top to contact your attorney. 

How Soon Can I Speak With My Attorney if Stopped for a DWI?

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have the right to immediately speak to your attorney when pulled over for a DWI. In the State of Texas, you only have the right to speak with your attorney after the police officers on the scene complete their initial investigation and you have been booked in jail. It is important to remember this and not answer questions or participate in tests on the scene. As this information can be negatively used against you. 

Should I Take a Field Sobriety Test?

You may be thinking, “I’ve only had one drink” or “I can certainly pass a field sobriety test.” However, the police will use the results of these tests to help build their case against you. In most instances, it is top if you politely decline their requests and opt to speak with your lawyer after being arrested. It is important to note that your license can be suspended for up to two years (in severe cases) if you refuse to take a breathalyzer or blood test. However, you have the right to request a hearing with the State Office of Administrative Hearings to circumvent this. It must be done within 15 days of the arrest though. 

What Can Happen if I Am Convicted of a DWI?

In Texas, mandatory jail time is levied against people convicted of a DWI. That can range from three days to 10 years depending on how many times you have been convicted of the offense. Furthermore, you will heavy face fines ($2,000 to $10,000), likely probation, license suspension, and be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. It should be noted that you will have to pay for the installation yourself. 

How Long Do DWI Convictions Stay on My Record?

DWI convictions to not drop off of your record. They stay indefinitely. If it is your first offense, you may be eligible to apply for a “non-disclosure.” Which means that your record cannot be seen by everyone. However, you will have to wait at least two years after your probation period ends before applying. 

Is It Mandatory to Have an Ignition Interlock Device Put in My Car to Get Out of Jail?

If it is your first offense of DWI, some judges show leniency and do not require you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle as a condition of your bond. However, if you have been convicted of a DWI before, you will have to have one installed. Furthermore, you will not be able to drive any vehicle that doesn’t have one installed. 

What is a Restricted License and How Do I Get One?

This can also be called an occupational license. It gives a person convicted of a DWI the ability to drive a non-commercial vehicle for a limited amount of reasons to such as driving to work, taking care of essential household or personal obligations and/or for educational reasons. If approved, you must fulfill other requirements within 30 days of the order for the actual license to be issued. They include showing proof of SR-22 insurance, paying a license and reinstatement fee as well as an SR-37 form.  

Can I Get Probation or “deferred Adjudication” Instead of Jail Time?

There are few crimes in the State of Texas that do not allow for deferred adjudication. DWI offenses are one of them. However, if you meet certain requirements, you may be eligible for probation or community service in lieu of jail time. This will depend on your record and how severe your DWI case it. Furthermore, it will be at the judge’s discretion. 

What if There is a Child in the Vehicle When I’m Arrested for a DWI?

In many cases, DWI offenses are classified as a misdemeanor. However, if you are convicted of DWI with a minor (under the age of 14) in the car, you could be convicted of a felony offense. 

Working With an Experienced Attorney

As you can see, DWI offenses are complicated. From the moment of arrest to the trial, there are many pitfalls that you will want to avoid in order to have your case potentially dismissed, your charges decreased, or have a lighter punishment imposed. At Cole Paschall Law we have almost 30 years of experience with DWI offense and intend on using our expertise to fight your case. If you have been arrested for DWI, give us a call as soon as you can so we can get to work on your case. 

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