Those who have never before driven under the influence might not be aware of everything that a DWI case entails. If so, the following information might serve as an example of what to expect after the arrest. This way, a well-informed driver will avoid making some of the rookie mistakes most first-time DWI offenders tend to make.
So, what happens on a first DWI in Texas, and how do drivers prepare for it?
What Counts as a DWI in Texas?
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a driver counts as legally intoxicated when the concentration of alcohol in their blood reaches 0.08%.
In general, the physical and mental capabilities of a driver get compromised under the influence of alcohol. Thus, an intoxicated driver loses some of the motor and sensory skills they need to operate the vehicle properly. Because of that, drinking and driving is among the most frequent causes of traffic accidents around the world.
What Happens When the Police Catches an Intoxicated Driver in Texas?
Despite what many believe, a police officer cannot simply pull over a driver for no apparent reason. Instead, they have to, at least, suspect something is off — based on what they see. For example, a police officer can witness a driver forgetting to turn on a turn signal or going through a red light. If so, they can ask the driver to step out of their vehicle and take a breath alcohol test.
In this kind of situation, it is important to stay calm. Although the drivers who know they have committed a DWI might feel the need to flee the scene, they should avoid doing that. The same goes for wrongly accused drivers and first-time offenders. Regardless of how the police might treat them, they should comply with the police officers' orders.
In particular, this includes taking a breathalyzer test. But the thing about these tests is that they are not too reliable. Their results also depend on whether the officer knows how to handle a breathalyzer properly.
Still, if a driver's BAC is above 0.08%, they get charged with a DWI. The police officer making the arrest will read them their Miranda rights and tell them they are entitled to a lawyer. So, instead of pleading guilty, the arrested driver should call their criminal case attorney.
How Can a DWI Lawyer Help First-Time Offenders?
The first thing the accused driver should do — before contacting DUI attorneys — is request a hearing. Texas law gives them no more than 15 days to make such a request. If they manage to do it in time, they can continue to drive without any consequences. They will also have enough time to prepare for their hearing as it does not happen right away.
During the first-appearance hearing, the driver charged with a DWI will be asked if they have counsel. If not, the offender should reach out to a criminal case attorney as soon as possible. Then, the district attorney will go on to show all the data collected from the prosecutors. The relevant evidence will, of course, include the chemical test results.
The driver accused of a DWI might have to go on several such hearings. During one of the hearings, they will get a chance to make their plea. When they do, they should remember to plead "not guilty." If so, their attorney might be able to help them win the case. (Find out how to win a DWI case in Texas)
Before the possible trial, the lawyer will gather all the relevant information from their client. Thus, they will use any evidence they might have to build a strong defense strategy. They might also manage to work out a favorable plea deal for their client or even get their charges dismissed altogether.
If not, a DWI attorney will try to prove their client's innocence during the trial, pointing to the possible mistakes the arresting police officer might have made, such as:
● forgetting to read their client the Miranda rights
● arresting their client against their constitutional rights
● failing to perform the breath alcohol test properly so that its results are unreliable
What Makes the First DWI Case Different from all the Subsequent Ones?
A first-time DWI offender can spend between 3 and 180 days incarcerated. If guilty, they might have to pay a fine of up to $2,000 as well as lose their driver's license for up to a year. In addition, keeping their license may cost them another $1,000‒2,000. Any subsequent DWI offenses mean longer jail time, a prolonged loss of a license, as well as higher fines.
No first-time DWI offender could make it without hiring a criminal case attorney to build their case. An experienced lawyer will try to prove their client's innocence during all the court hearings and the possible trial. In turn, the defendant will need to stay calm and remember never to plead guilty.
If you have other questions such as if one can drink while on DWI probation in Texas, contact our lawyer today.