Getting stopped by the police is always a little unnerving, and it can be outright frightening when you’re being stopped for suspected driving while under the influence. The same is true whether or not you really are intoxicated, and especially true even if it’s your first time being pulled over for suspected DWI.
From staying calm, trying to understand what’s going on, co-operating as much as possible and planning on finding the right kind of legal guidance and support from a professional DWI lawyer in Dallas to help you fight the possible charges, there’s a lot that might be going through your head.
With that said, here, you’ll find some information of what will happen during and after a DUI arrest in Texas.
When you’re first pulled over, the most important thing is to remain calm, cool and cooperative with the officer. The least helpful thing in this instance would be to panic, act rashly and standoffish, and give the officer reason to suspect you even more.
Have your licence at hand ready for the officers request, and be prepared to answer a range of likely uncomfortable questions that may trip you up and risk incriminating you. You may even be asked to perform a field sobriety test. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that you can refuse a field sobriety test, though whether it’s best to do so is another matter.
If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re not intoxicated, and you feel completely able to pass a field sobriety test, it could be a point in your favour. If you do fail it, however, the police have collected more evidence in the case against you. If in doubt, it might be worth refusing the test, even if it does raise the risk of you being arrested on suspicion.
If your licence is suspended as a result of your arrest, you’ll have the right to request an appeal within 15 days. Perhaps you severely object to the way the arresting officer handled it, or you believe they based the arrest on a misleading reading. Either way, it’s important to have the support of an experienced lawyer when looking to fight a charge such as this.
Was I really too intoxicated?
In Texas, the two definitions of “DWI” are as follows. You either::
“Lack the normal use of mental or physical faculties” due to intoxication or drug use.
Have a blood alcohol concentration of.08%.This is referred to as a ‘per se DUI’, where you can be arrested just for being above the limit, even if you’re showing no obvious intoxication.
This shows that it’s more than just being drunk. If you’re acting in a manner that the arresting officer believes you’re intoxicated or unable to act in a normal fashion, you’re at risk of arrest. This is why a calm, measured and co-operative approach can be so useful, as it shows you’re not acting irrationally.
What happens if I’m charged?
Depending on whether or not this is your first DWI charge in Texas, there are a few things that could happen after an arrest.
Usually, a first DWI arrest would be considered a Class B misdemeanor, but this is only true as long as your blood alcohol is below 0.15%, in which case it moves up to a class A.
Penalties for a first DWI charge include:
- A fine of $2,000-$4,000
- Between 72 hours and 6 months in jail (A full year if your BAC was over 0.15%)
- Possible probation, community service and education programs
- Suspended licence for 90 days to 12 months
- Prior to September 2019, you also faced a $1,000-$2,0000 licence surcharge, though this has since been scrapped.
- Without lodging an appeal, you face a license suspension of one year. This is guaranteed if you fail a chemical test. Refusing the chemical test will make this suspension last two years.
- Up to 200 hours of community service, probation and educational courses
- Your car will have to be fitted with an ignition interlock device (IID) for a full year
- Fines of up to $4,000
- The risk of increased jail time over a first conviction
- A similar licence suspension if a successful appeal is not lodged in time or you fail / refuse a chemical test
- At this point, the charge is a third-degree felony and carries 2-10 years in state prison.
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Up to 600 hours of community service, probation and educational courses
- An IID fitted to your car for one full year
As the risks associated with a DWI conviction are so great, it’s crucial that you have a DWI expert on your side through the process. Relying on a public defender may seem like a good option, but they could be stretched thin and not as knowledgeable in the area compared to the prosecution, so make sure you have the right people fighting for you when you need it most.