Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is known as driving under the influence (DUI) in other jurisdictions, and people who are arrested for this crime are usually making their first appearances in criminal justice system. This inexperience typically leads many people to immediately assume that they will be pleading guilty and possibly arguing for some kind of mercy in sentencing.
Any DWI offense needs to be taken seriously because the consequences of a conviction can be extremely long-lasting. Texas does not allow people to seal or expunge DWI offenses from their criminal records, so any conviction becomes a permanent mark on your criminal record.
If you or your loved one were arrested for your first DWI in the greater Fort Worth area, you are going to want to be sure that you quickly seek legal representation. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help identify key problems with your case that make it more difficult to prosecute.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy has decades of experience fighting all kinds of DWI charges in Tarrant County. We can help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.
Texas Penal Code § 49.04 establishes that a person commits DWI if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2), there are two definitions for the term intoxicated.
Intoxicated is first defined as “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 substance into the body.” This is the more subjective definition of intoxicated that is typically the opinion of the arresting officer, often supported by dashcam video footage or mugshots taken at the local jail.
Intoxicated is also defined as a person having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.01(1), an alcohol concentration is the number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, 100 milliliters of blood, or 67 milliliters of urine.
A DWI based on a BAC violation is commonly referred to as a “per se DWI” (“per se” is the Latin phrase for “by itself” or “in itself”). Officers in many cases will argue that alleged offenders satisfied both definitions of intoxicated.
In most cases, a first DWI with no aggravating factors will be a class B misdemeanor. One important aggravating factor is a BAC of 0.15 or greater, which then becomes a class A misdemeanor.
Convictions can result in the following sentences:
● Class B Misdemeanor — Fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail
● Class A Misdemeanor — Fine of up to $4,000 and/or up to one year in jail
Keep in mind that even some first offenses can result in felony charges when an alleged DWI offense involves aggravating factors like child passengers or motor vehicle accidents. Even class B misdemeanor convictions can still involve additional penalties such as driver’s license suspensions of at least 90 days, community service, and/or mandatory completion of DWI school.
You often have a number of possible defenses, depending on the specific circumstances relating to your arrest. In some cases, police had no probable cause for their original traffic stop and this can result in the DWI charges being thrown out.
Other cases may involve defenses relating to how DWI tests were administered. A test performed by an unauthorized individual or on equipment that was not properly maintained could also lead to those tests being inadmissible in court.
When an arrest is based more on an alleged offender’s mental or physical faculties rather than their BAC, it may be possible that a medical condition explains their perceived drunkenness. There could be a wide range of other evidentiary issues that could apply to your case.
Sober Rides — The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) launched this website to provide Texans with an easy way to find safe options for getting home. You can enter your current address and call nearby cab companies, take pedicabs, or find local public transportation options. You can also phone a friend or use social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook to find rides.
Misdemeanor DWI Court Program | Tarrant County — Visit this website to learn more about the Misdemeanor DWI Court program in Tarrant County, a post-plea misdemeanor probation offered through CSCD that is not a diversion program. The Misdemeanor DWI Court Program offers offenders outpatient treatment (inpatient treatment if necessary) with intensive supervision that is judicially supervised. Participants enter into treatment and are required to attend all therapeutic rehabilitative activities, with attendance monitored by Community Supervision Officers assigned to the Misdemeanor DWI Court program.
Were you or your loved one arrested for your first DWI in Fort Worth or another community in Tarrant County? Make sure that you are quick to retain legal counsel.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy will work tirelessly to help you achieve the most favorable possible outcome to your case. Call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.