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DWI – Driving While Intoxicated in Texas

DWI – Driving While Intoxicated

The DWI definition (Driving While Intoxicated) in Texas is when a person drives or operates a motor vehicle in a public place, while intoxicated. Any driver who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or greater, or who has lost the normal use of one’s mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, or a combination of substances into the body, is legally intoxicated. If you are a commercial driver, then the limit is even lower at 0.04, and for 21 or under it is any detectable trace. Additionally, even if your BAC is less than 0.08, you can still be charged with this offense if the arresting officer can provide opinion evidence against you.

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) specifically involves those individuals who have not reached the legal drinking age of 21 and are operating a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their systems. The main difference with this charge is that the officer merely has to “detect alcohol”, it is not required that intoxication be proven or even shown. These offenses are typically Class C offenses with a fine not to exceed $500.00 and community service, driver’s safety courses or perhaps course in underage drinking.

The punishment for DWI offense offenses ranges from probation to jail time in addition to court costs, fines, the suspension of your license, and surcharges to be paid to the Department of Public Safety. The severity of the punishment depends on a number of factors including the criminal history of the accused, past convictions for DWI, BAC level, whether there was an accident, injury, or death as a result, or whether there was a child under 15 in the vehicle.

With the widespread use of dash-cam and body-cams by law enforcement officers, the judge or jury will usually get to see whether the accused drove poorly or performed badly on Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s). In cases where the driver refuses a breath or blood test, the prosecutor will use these videos and the opinion testimony of the officers at the scene to prove intoxication. A skilled defense attorney may also use the videos to show a “disconnect” between the officer’s opinion on intoxication and the driver’s performance on camera.

Even when there is a breath or blood test involved, there are many opportunities for the personnel involved in these processes to make errors which can be sufficient to create “reasonable doubt” in the jury or judge’s mind.

If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated, it is wise to seek out a reputable DWI attorney immediately because he or she could significantly alter the outcome of your case. In terms of what a DWI lawyer does, it is his or her duty to work on behalf of the client to assess the weaknesses in the state’s case, and use all available means to lessen the consequences.

It is never a wise choice for defendants in a DWI case to represent themselves in a court of law. A DWI lawyer knows the ins and outs of criminal law pertaining to driving while intoxicated and can always get a better outcome via trial or plea bargain agreement, than a pro-se defendant can get on his or her own.

If you ever find yourself facing DWI charges, the law firm of Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant is here to help. Give us a call at (940) 387-3518, or fill out our contact form here.

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