Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) are two charges you don’t want to take lightly. As soon as an officer arrests you for DWI or DUI, contact an attorney. In fact, you have the right to call an attorney while still in your vehicle under questioning by a police officer in Houston. Keep our phone number on speed dial in case of these or other emergency legal situations. Speaking to an attorney can help you know what to do and say to protect your rights as much as possible in a drinking-and-driving scenario.
DWI vs. DUI Charges
In Texas, DWI and DUI are two separate charges. DWI is the equivalent of drunk driving, wherein the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is at or above the legal limit of 0.08%. If police pull over a person under the age of 21 with any amount of alcohol in his or her system, that person can receive a DUI charge. This is due to the state’s zero-tolerance policy. If the minor has a BAC of 0.08% or lower, he or she can still face DWI charges.
The penalties between DWI and DUI differ. For a first-time DWI offense, a driver faces fines up to $2,000 and/or a jail sentence of three to 180 days. The driver will also lose his or her license for one year. A minor stopped for DUI may receive fines up to $500, have his or her driver’s license suspended for 60 days, receive 20–40 hours of community service, and be instructed to attend an alcohol-awareness course. Subsequent offenses result in more severe penalties for both DWI and DUI. Both are serious charges that can significantly affect the driver’s life.
What to Do After a DWI/DUI Charge
Every driver in Texas automatically consents to chemical tests for alcohol when he or she gets behind the wheel. However, a police officer must have probable cause to request a Breathalyzer or other test, unless it is at a DWI checkpoint. An officer must have a reason to pull you over, such as swerving, broken taillight, or violations of another roadway rule. The officer must detect something to clue him or her in to your alcohol consumption, such as slurred speech or the smell of alcohol on your breath. Failure to show probable cause can lead to the courts dropping the charges against you.
If an officer pulls you over, you have the right to refuse a BAC test. This will, however, result in automatic penalties such as a 180-day license suspension. Your lawyer will advise you on whether or not to refuse the test, depending on your specific circumstances. You may phone an attorney while in the vehicle, prior to answering the police officer’s questions. If you take the BAC test and face a resulting DWI or DUI charge, you must go to court to defend yourself or plead guilty.
In these cases, it is the defense’s goal to prove that you weren’t driving the vehicle at the time, you weren’t intoxicated, or there was an error during arrest. The first may be possible to prove if the arresting officer did not actually witness you driving. The second is difficult to prove with BAC evidence, but may not be as hard if the prosecution based the arrest on the officer’s eyewitness testimony. An error during arrest may be that the officer had no legal justification to stop your vehicle or if the officer failed to follow the correct procedures during arrest. In these cases, any evidence against you may be inadmissible.
Retain Defense Attorneys You Can Trust in Houston
Defending DWI and DUI cases is what we do best. We can give you honest, dependable legal counsel. Let us help you defend your rights after a DWI/DUI arrest. Call or contact us online for a consultation