While many states in the union call driving under the influence or intoxicated a “DUI,” the state of Texas refers to this offense as a DWI. Typically, a DWI is defined as a maximum blood alcohol content, or BAC, of 0.08% for Texas drivers 21 and older. Texas does have a zero tolerance policy for drivers who are under the age of 21 and found to be operating a vehicle under the influence. This means that an under-21 driver can receive a DWI charge for driving with any measurable alcohol content in their systems.
What Happens in a DWI Case
A DWI case often begins because you are pulled over by a Texas law enforcement officer who will likely ask for your license and registration. He or she may also ask you some basic questions and if the officer suspects you have been drinking, a field sobriety test will likely be administered. This may include walking on a line or doing a one-legged stand. Other Texas law enforcement officers may choose to test for horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) and pupil dilation. If you do not perform well on these tests, you probably will be asked to submit to a breathalyzer exam or a blood or urine test.
While individuals must consent before these tests are performed, all drivers in Texas are deemed to have given implied consent to testing by simple virtue of holding a valid state driver’s license. While you still have the right to refuse the test, doing so may result in an automatic 180-day suspension of your license.
Court Appearance and License Revocation
Your first court appearance will likely be arraignment, where a Texas judge will formally read the charges against you. You will be given the opportunity to request a public defender (if you do not have a private attorney in place) and be offered a chance to enter a plea. Unlike other states, a Texas prosecutor is not allowed to accept a plea bargain for a lesser charge when the BAC registered above 0.08%. At the conclusion of arraignment, the judge will set bail. Bail is a money deposit, in exchange for release, that is returned when you appear at all scheduled court dates.
Before you are even convicted, Texas will administratively revoke your driver’s license following a DWI arrest for a period between 90 days and two years. Nonetheless, a person charged with a Texas DWI may ask for a hearing before the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) within 15 days of receiving the revocation notice to determine whether or not it is valid. Failure to petition the TDPS for a hearing within the time frame will result in an automatic suspension on the 40th day after the notice is received. Even if the TDPS revokes your Texas driver’s license you may still be eligible for an occupational license, which allows you to drive to school, work, and other essential places.
DWI Trial Attorneys
If you or someone you know is facing DWI charges in Texas, contact the DWI defense attorneys at (214) 741-4000 today. With over 20 years experience fighting as a DWI defense lawyer and prior experience as a prosecutor, this firm will fight for your rights every step of the way.
(image courtesy of Gonard Fluit)