Texas DWI Q&A
How do I tell if someone is driving under the influence?
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, intoxicated drivers exhibit the following signs:
- Speed slower than 10 M.P.H. below limit
- Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
- Headlights off at night
- Braking erratically
- Straddling center of lane marker
- Stopping in lane for no apparent reason
- “Appearing to be drunk”
- Drinking in the car
- Face close to the windshield
- Tightly gripping the steering wheel
- Slouching in the seat
- Gesturing erratically or obscenely
- Eye fixation
- Head protruding from the car
- Almost striking object or vehicle
- Weaving or swerving
- Driving on other than designated roadway
- Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
- Turning with wide radius
- Following too closely
- Tires on center or lane marker
- Slow response to traffic signals
- Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
- Stopping inappropriately (other than in traffic lane)
- Turning abruptly or illegally
Speeding is not a recognized sign of intoxication.
What is the legal definition of intoxication in Texas?
In Texas, the legal definition of intoxication is:
- 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 substances into the body; OR
- having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
The prosecutor only needs to prove one of these three definitions (mental impairment, physical impairment, alcohol concentration) to convict you. For example, if you did not take a blood or breath test and were physically functioning normally but the jury believes you were mentally impaired, you should be convicted. You do not necessarily have to be “drunk” to be intoxicated.
What does .08 alcohol concentration mean?
“Alcohol concentration” is defined by law as:
- the number of grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood;
- the number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath; or
- the number of grams of alcohol per 67 milliliters of urine.
Only an alcohol expert can determine if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is greater than .08. Also, these tests are not equal: one could prove your innocence while the other could imply that you’re guilty. This factor alone demonstrates the importance of hiring an experienced attorney.
How are normal mental and physical faculties measured – what is “normal”?
A person is charged with not having the normal use of their own faculties – not mental and physical abilities relative to anybody else. Additionally, everyone has a “range” of what’s normal for them.
Does the BAC apply to the time of the test or the time of driving?
It is only against the law to have a BAC of .08 or greater at the time of driving. Depending on the time between being stopped and taking a test, the alcohol concentration may not be completely accurate. It is common for chemical tests to be performed up to 90 minutes after driving. The test could be accurate, but it’s equally possible for the test to be inaccurate by up to .03.
If a police officer in Texas stops me and asks if I’ve been drinking, what do I say?
Stay polite and courteous, but do not apologize or admit to anything. Don’t try to talk your way out of anything, as you will probably incriminate yourself by accident. If the officer wants you to perform field sobriety tests, he’s already made up his mind.
What should I do if the officer asks me to perform field sobriety tests?
If you know that you can pass the tests when asked to perform them, you should attempt them. Once you pass them, the officer should let you go on your way. However, many people cannot pass these tests while sober! If you’re not sure what to do, tell the officer you’d like to contact a lawyer. They will most likely let you, since you haven’t refused to perform them. Another approach you could take is asking the officer if you’re required to take the field sobriety tests. The honest answer: no, you’re not. Any other answer could lead a jury to think the officer is deceptive. You can then ask if the tests are 100% accurate – the answer here again is no.
I passed the field sobriety tests and still got arrested. Why?
You have to pass these tests in the officer’s opinion. Most officers would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to intoxicated driving, and are more likely to arrest people smelling of alcohol regardless of field sobriety test results.
The officer never read me my Miranda rights. What can a Dallas DWI Lawyer do about this?
Your Miranda rights only apply once an officer tries to question you. If an officer asked you questions but should have read your Miranda rights first, those questions will be inadmissible in court.
Can other factors affect my performance on field sobriety tests?
Yes! You could be affected by:
- Dust in your eyes
- Head lights
- The police officers strobe lights
- Weather conditions
- Back problems
- Leg and/or Knee injuries
- Inner ear disorders
- Ankle and/or Foot problems
- Road or sidewalk conditions
- Lack of coordination
What is the state’s burden of proof?
The State of Texas must prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is the highest burden of proof in the American justice system. Simply put, if a juror even has a single reasonable doubt to your guilt, they must find you not guilty.
Can I legally drink alcohol while driving in Texas?
It is illegal for both drivers and passengers to possess any open container of alcohol, unless you’re a passenger in a bus, taxi, limousine, or living quarters of a mobile home.
How will a Texas DWI affect my car insurance?
If convicted, your insurance rates will probably be raised anywhere between 300 and 500%. You may also be dropped by your insurance company.
How long will a DWI arrest stay on my record in the state of Texas?
If you’re convicted, the DWI will be on your record forever. If found not guilty, you can have the DWI expunged from your record and nobody will ever know it happened.
We understand that a drunk driving conviction is not an option for you. At The Wilder Firm, we strive for all our clients to be found NOT GUILTY. For a quick response or free evaluation of your DUI/DWI arrest, please contact our Texas drunk driving attorneys at (214) 741-4000.
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