Defenses to DWI/DUI Charges in Texas
The holiday season often involves an increase in traffic accidents, especially those involving intoxicated drivers. In our blog, “Holiday DWI: Signs & Statistics,” we discuss the ways that law enforcement officers identify supposedly drunk drivers and statistics concerning Texas DWI rates. Below, we will outline the possible defenses against such charges.
Common DWI Defenses
With a solid defense, you can work to have your charges reduced or even dismissed. Common defenses against DWI charges are:
- Constitutional rights violation. If a defendant’s rights were violated at any time during their arrest or detainment, your attorney can challenge the charges and/or arrest and move to have the evidence collected dismissed. Police officers are not allowed to ignore your rights. Common constitutional right violations include illegal searches or stops and failure to read your Miranda rights.
- Breath test defenses. Breathalyzer tests can be inaccurate if you recently burped, used mouthwash, have diabetes, or take certain medications. Breath tests also have to be properly calibrated and checked for accuracy; another breath test defense involves challenging whether the breathalyzer was calibrated and the administrator of the test is properly licensed.
- Blood draw defenses. After a person is arrested, the police will take blood samples to better establish a person’s BAC. For the test to be accurate, the tester must adhere to strict protocols. Blood tests can be challenged because of issues with the test sample or the way the sample was taken.
- Illegal stop. As we mentioned, police must have a valid reason to ask you to pull over on suspicion of a DWI. If they lack probable cause but still pull you over, your attorney can challenge the stop and any evidence collected as a result of that stop. Legal reasons that police may stop you include (but are not limited to) weaving, swerving, inconsistent speed, drifting, almost colliding with a vehicle or obstacle, or having vigilance or judgment problems.
- Failure to prove elements of DWI. Your attorney can argue that the prosecution lacks the evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime; the prosecution also has to prove every element of the offense. A common element that is hard to prove is that the defendant was in actual control of the vehicle; for instance, if a person is trying to “sleep it off,” the prosecution may struggle to prove that they committed a DWI defense, especially if the keys are not in the ignition.
- Field sobriety test defenses. Field sobriety tests are known for being inaccurate when determining whether a person is under the influence; however, law enforcement officers sometimes still conduct these tests. The results of your field sobriety test can be challenged, because many tests can result in false positives if a person has a concussion, has leg or feet injuries, is elderly, has difficulty balancing, is obese, or has taken medication that causes nystagmus of the eye.
- Affirmative defenses. An affirmative defense is a defense that aims to negate the defendant’s criminal liability with evidence. Common affirmative defenses for DWIs include duress or mistake of fact. In using duress as a defense, you are aiming to prove the defendant only operated the motor vehicle because of threats made against them or other extenuating circumstances. A mistake of fact occurs when the defendant has a reasonable belief because of a mistaken belief that negates their culpability.
Please be advised that the best defense strategy for you will be a tailored strategy that considers your case specifics. You should work with an experienced attorney to ensure that your defense is unique.
Consult with Our DWI Attorneys
DWI charges carry serious penalties, including hefty fines and jail time. While first-time offenders face a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail as well as the loss of their driver’s license for a year, second-time offenders can be penalized by a fine of up to $4,000, up to a year in jail, and the loss of their license for up to two years. Third-time and subsequent offenders face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up $10,000, and the loss of their licenses for up to two years.
Those convicted of DWIs in Texas can also face the loss of certain professional licensees, mandatory completion of a DWI/Alcohol education program, mandated participation in a victim impact panel, and social consequences related to having a criminal record. Because of the severity of conviction penalties, it is imperative to retain reliable and skilled legal counsel.
At The Clark Law Firm, our attorneys have over 35 years of collective legal experience and are more than equipped to help clients mount solid defenses against DWI charges. If you or a loved one have been arrested or charged with a DWI, we can guide you through the complex legal system and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible case results. Because we have a deep understanding of the laws, our firm can negotiate with the prosecutors to get the charges reduced or dismissed, fight for alternative sentencing options, and increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
To schedule a free initial consultation, call (817) 435-4970 or reach out online today. You don’t have to fight your charges alone.