On October 21, 2020, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that while Tarrant County had launched its no-refusal driving while intoxicated (DWI) program around holidays with typically higher incidents of drunken driving, officials said during a news conference on the front steps of the county courthouse that all 41 Tarrant cities would have the option to make no-refusal a year-round policy. Any suspected drunken driver who refuses a breath test during this time can be subjected to a court-ordered blood test under an expedited warrant.
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office said there were 6,001 DWI cases in 2019. Officials did not say if there was an increase in drunken driving but instead described it as a prevalent problem that has continued to lead to deaths on more than just holidays.
The expansion effort is a result of a partnership between the District Attorney’s Office, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department, and participating police departments across the county, which will now have access to expedited judicial warrants and blood-draw locations. Police departments don’t have to formally opt into the program, officials said, but it’s up to the departments to implement the program.
Cody Phillips, the chief of the Haltom City Police Department, said the majority of the jurisdictions in Tarrant County have elected to participate. DWI arrests in Tarrant County have taken on a somewhat strange tone in recent months.
This announcement came only two days after the Star-Telegram reported that Fort Worth city council member Cary Moon was arrested and charged with DWI in Burleson. Moon was driving on South Dobson Street when he did not come to a complete stop at a stop sign at 2:21 a.m.
Moon’s truck hit a curb, drove onto the grass, and then back onto the road. An officer turned on their emergency lights to pull him over, and Moon hit the curb again.
Moon told the Star-Telegram he expected to continue to serve as the District 4 councilman. Asked if he would resign or if he had notified the city, Moon said he would not need to resign because the misdemeanor charge was a “victimless crime” and no one was hurt.
Last November, KXAS-TV reported that a 20-year-old woman who crashed into a Fort Worth police cruiser early Saturday morning was in custody and charged with drunken driving. The officer was diverting traffic away from a previous crash and onto the off-ramp when the woman drove through the flare line and struck the rear end of the patrol car.
The officer was not in the vehicle at the time of the crash and was not hurt. The woman had minor injuries.
In January, KRLD-AM reported that a woman was arrested after driving her car into a house in Fort Worth on Oak Grove Road near I-20 and I-35. No one in the home was hurt and the driver seemed to be unharmed, although police said the alleged offender tried to run for it. Police caught her and she was arrested and taken to jail on a drunk-driving charge.
In February of this year, KTVT-TV reported that a former North Texas firefighter was sentenced to four months in jail and ten years probation for his role in a crash that killed a 6-month-old baby in April 2018. He pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter.
Defending Against Drug Charges in Tarrant County, TX
A DWI is usually a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. A DWI with a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or more, however, is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
Many of the cases above involved traffic accidents, and these kinds of crashes can worsen DWI charges. If an alleged offender by accident or mistake, operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated and by reason of the intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another party, it could result in intoxication assault charges.
Intoxication assault is typically a third-degree felony that could result in up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. This offense could be a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if the alleged offender caused serious bodily injury to a peace officer, a firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of official duty, or caused serious bodily injury to another in the nature of a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state.
DWI penalties in Texas increase with subsequent offenses, so while a first offense is a Class B misdemeanor, a second is a Class A misdemeanor, and third or subsequent offenses are third-degree felonies. A third-degree felony conviction could mean a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Tarrant County’s decision to expand the no-refusal program also means that people can face severe penalties for refusing to submit to DWI tests. It is important for people to remember that consent to testing is implied in Texas as a condition of being a licensed driver in the state.
Drivers, however, are never required to submit to field sobriety tests. State law does not mandate compliance with field sobriety testing and you will not face any additional sanctions for refusing to submit to field sobriety tests.
When you refuse to submit to a DWI breath test, however, your driver’s license could be immediately suspended for up to 180 days. If you have previously refused to submit to testing, then the suspension could be for up to two years.
Refusing to submit to testing also impacts how police report alleged offender conduct in their police reports, and they could be more likely to describe you as argumentative or confrontational if you do not do what is asked of you. Prosecutors frequently argue that alleged offenders in DWI cases refused to submit to testing because they knew they were guilty.
While prison or jail time and fines are often the penalties most frequently associated with DWI convictions, driver’s license suspensions are another common penalty that is frequently overlooked but can be just as impactful. It is increasingly looking like refusing a breath test in Tarrant County could lead to a possible blood draw.
Under Texas Transportation Code § 724.012, police officers are required to draw an individual’s blood when they have been arrested for DWI, refused to submit to testing, and were the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident and the arresting officer reasonably believes an individual will die or has died from the accident, or an individual, other than the driver, suffered serious bodily injury from the accident or suffered bodily injury and was taken to a medical facility for treatment; the driver who is suspected of DWI had a child passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle; the arresting officer has reason to believe the alleged offender has previously been convicted of, or placed on community supervision, for DWI with a child passenger under the age of 15, intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter; or the arresting officer has reason to believe the alleged offender has previously been convicted of, or placed on community supervision, for two or more previous DWI offenses.
Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for Drug Crimes | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Were you arrested for a DWI offense in Tarrant County, Southlake, Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, and Keller, TX area? Make sure you have the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy on your side.
Our firm has been handling DWI cases for clients all over North Texas for more than two decades. Call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to have us take a closer look at your case and discuss all of your legal options with you during a free consultation.