Our Dallas DWI Lawyer Defends Driving While Intoxicated Allegations
What Does a Dallas DWI Lawyer Do?
A Dallas DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) lawyer specializes in representing individuals who have been charged with DWI offenses in Dallas, Texas, and the surrounding areas. These legal professionals provide a range of services to help their clients navigate the complex legal system and achieve the best possible outcome in their cases.
What is a DWI in Texas?
In Texas, DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. It is a criminal offense that occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substance that impairs their ability to drive safely. Texas law defines intoxication as:
- Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, or
- Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of a substance into your body.
What’s the difference between a DWI, DWI-Open Container, and DWI BAC >/= .15?
A first-time DWI can be filed in four different ways: a standard DWI, DWI-Open Container, and DWI with a BAC of 0.15 or higher:
DWI (Driving While Intoxicated)
A standard DWI charge occurs when a person is found to be operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, or when their mental or physical faculties are impaired due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Penalties for a DWI in Texas can include fines, jail time, license suspension, and other consequences depending on the number of prior offenses and the specific circumstances of the case.
This offense occurs when a person is charged with a DWI and is also found to have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of their vehicle. An open container is defined as any bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and has been opened, has a broken seal, or has had some of the contents removed. In Texas, the penalties for a DWI-Open Container charge are generally more severe than those for a standard DWI. For example, a first-time DWI-Open Container offense carries a minimum jail term of 6 days.
DWI with BAC >/= 0.15
This charge applies when a person is found to be operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.15 or higher, which is almost twice the legal limit of 0.08%. Due to the significantly elevated level of intoxication, the penalties for a DWI with a BAC of 0.15 or higher are more severe than those for a standard DWI. In Texas, a first-time DWI with a BAC of 0.15 or higher is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $4,000, a jail term of up to one year, and a potential license suspension of up to two years.
DWI Child Passenger
In Texas, a DWI Child Passenger offense occurs when a person is charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) and has a child passenger who is under 15 years of age in the vehicle at the time of the offense. The presence of a child passenger significantly increases the potential consequences of a DWI charge, as it is seen as a more severe offense due to the increased risk posed to the child. A DWI Child Passenger charge is classified as a state jail felony in Texas, which carries more severe penalties compared to a standard DWI. Some of the potential penalties for a DWI Child Passenger offense include a state jail sentence ranging from 180 days to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Do you have to be drunk to be charged with a DWI in Texas?
You don’t have to be hammered to be charged with DWI in Texas. In fact, you can be charged with DWI with a blood alcohol content of less than 0.08%, the state’s legal limit. All the state has to prove is you were not normal mentally or physically due to the introduction of any substance into your body – including prescriptions or narcotics.
Why you should listen to us
As Board Certified criminal lawyers (Benson Varghese, Anna Summersett, Letty Martinez, and Tanya Dohoney), we are experts in criminal law. We’ve handled hundreds of intoxication cases and have had many DWIs outright dismissed in Dallas – a rare and exceptional outcome in this county. We have defended people from all walks of life against DWI charges, including lawyers, pilots, doctors, nurses, firefighters, barbers, plumbers – and even elected officials.
Before we get into the details of a DWI offense, let’s first explain why you should trust us with your DWI defense. We are an authority on DWIs across North Texas, including Dallas, Tarrant, and surrounding counties. Few law firms have tried more DWI cases in front of juries than us. Our team of attorneys has tried more than 300 DWI cases, including intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughter, in North Texas. We will challenge the evidence and find any weaknesses to leverage for the best possible result. When prosecutors learn Varghese Summersett is the defense team, they know we’re bringing an intimidating wealth of experience into the courtroom.
What You Should Expect from Our Varghese Summersett DWI Lawyers
We begin with a complimentary consultation about your case. We will discuss the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in your case. Whether we take your case to trial, use a motion to suppress, or negotiate a lesser offense, we will keep you informed and updated on the progress throughout the process.
What are the legal elements of DWI Offense in Texas?
Interestingly, the Texas Penal Code does not mention “driving” in its definition of a DWI.
The state instead requires prosecutors to show the following to prove a DWI:
- On or about a particular date
- The person accused
- A motor vehicle
- While intoxicated
- According to Texas law, intoxicated means:
- The person lacked their “normal” mental faculties due to an intoxicant;
- The person lacked their “normal” physical faculties due to an intoxicant; OR
- The person had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more.
What is Normal?
We put the word “normal” in quotes because it’s not a defined term and is one reason why a case without a breath or blood specimen could be open for attack. In non-specimen cases (where there is no breath or blood sample), whether or not a person was normal is subject to a lot of debate.
What are the two cases that are filed when you are arrested for a DWI in Texas?
In Texas, when a person is arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), they typically face two separate cases:
- Criminal Case: This is the case brought against the accused by the state or local government, alleging that the accused has violated the DWI laws. If convicted in a criminal case, the accused can face penalties such as fines, probation, community service, mandatory alcohol education classes, and potential jail or prison time. The severity of the penalties depends on factors like the accused’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), prior DWI convictions, and whether any injuries or property damage occurred as a result of the DWI.
- Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Case: This is a separate civil case that deals with the suspension of the accused’s driver’s license. The ALR process is initiated by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) when the accused either fails a BAC test (with a BAC of 0.08% or higher for adults, or 0.02% or higher for minors) or refuses to take a BAC test during a DWI stop. The accused has a limited time (usually 15 days) to request an ALR hearing to contest the suspension. If the hearing is not requested within the allotted time, or if the accused loses the hearing, their driver’s license will be suspended.
Why is the 15-day mark after a DWI in Texas critical?
The 15-day mark after a DWI arrest in Texas is critical because it represents the deadline for requesting an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. The ALR hearing is a separate civil process handled by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) that deals with the suspension of the accused’s driver’s license due to a DWI arrest.
If an individual fails a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test or refuses to take one during a DWI stop, the arresting officer will confiscate their driver’s license and issue a temporary driving permit. The accused then has only 15 days from the date of the arrest to request an ALR hearing to contest the license suspension.
If the accused does not request an ALR hearing within this 15-day window, their driver’s license will be automatically suspended. The duration of the suspension depends on the circumstances of the arrest and the individual’s prior DWI history.
What is the difference between a DWI and DUI in Texas?
In Texas, the terms Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are often used interchangeably, but they technically refer to different offenses.
- DWI (Driving While Intoxicated): DWI is the more common term used in Texas to describe the offense of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. For adults (21 years or older), this typically means having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. The penalties for a DWI can include fines, jail time, driver’s license suspension, and mandatory alcohol education classes, among others. The severity of the penalties depends on factors such as the driver’s BAC, prior DWI convictions, and whether any injuries or property damage occurred as a result of the DWI.
- DUI (Driving Under the Influence): In Texas, DUI specifically refers to the offense of operating a motor vehicle while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system (under 21 years old). Since Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving, a minor can be charged with a DUI even if their BAC is below the legal limit for adults (0.08%). Penalties for a DUI can include fines, community service, driver’s license suspension, and alcohol awareness classes.
How does a DWI differ for a CDL holder?
A DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) offense can have more severe consequences for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder in Texas than for a non-commercial driver. The key differences include:
- Lower BAC threshold: For CDL holders operating a commercial vehicle, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.04%, which is half of the 0.08% limit for non-commercial drivers.
- Impact on the CDL: A first-time DWI conviction, whether it occurred while operating a commercial or non-commercial vehicle, can result in a one-year disqualification of the CDL. If the DWI involved transporting hazardous materials, the disqualification period increases to a minimum of three years. A second DWI conviction can result in a lifetime CDL disqualification.
- Out-of-service orders: CDL holders convicted of a DWI may also receive an out-of-service order for a specified period, during which they cannot operate any commercial motor vehicle.
- Employment consequences: CDL holders often rely on their licenses for their livelihood. A DWI conviction can lead to job loss or difficulty finding employment as a commercial driver.
- More stringent penalties: CDL holders are held to higher safety standards due to the potential risks associated with operating large commercial vehicles. As a result, they may face more severe penalties for DWI offenses, even if they were not operating a commercial vehicle at the time of the arrest.
Can you get a DWI off your record?
In Texas, it may be possible to get a DWI off your record under certain circumstances through a process called expunction or an order of nondisclosure. However, eligibility for these options depends on the specific details of your case.
Expunction is a process that completely removes an arrest or conviction from your record as if it never happened. To be eligible for expunction, you must meet certain criteria, which may include:
- The DWI charge was dismissed, and you were not convicted.
- You were found not guilty at trial.
- You were arrested but never formally charged, and the statute of limitations has expired.
- You completed a pre-trial diversion program, and your case was dismissed.
Expunction is not available for DWI convictions in Texas, except in rare cases where the conviction was later overturned on appeal or through a pardon.
Order of Nondisclosure
An order of nondisclosure is a more limited form of record sealing that restricts access to your criminal record by certain entities, such as private employers or landlords. This option may be available for first-time DWI offenders who successfully completed probation or deferred adjudication. To be eligible, you must meet specific criteria, such as:
- It was a first-time DWI offense.
- Your BAC was below 0.15%.
- You have no other criminal convictions or deferred adjudications on your record.
- You completed all the terms of your probation or deferred adjudication, including any required classes or community service.
- You have waited the required waiting period after completing probation or deferred adjudication (usually two to five years, depending on the details of your case).
Call Us. Our Dallas DWI Attorneys Are Here to Help
Our team of attorneys with extensive experience in handling DWI cases. Our knowledge of the legal system, DWI laws, and defense strategies can be invaluable for achieving the best possible outcome for your case.
We Focus on DWI cases
We have a deep understanding of the unique challenges and complexities involved in these types of cases. They can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights are protected at every stage.
We know the Dallas courts and procedures:
We understand the procedures and nuances of the Dallas-area courts, which can be advantageous in negotiating with prosecutors or presenting your case in court.
We offer personalized attention:
We don’t operate in volume. We understand your unique situation and develop a defense strategy tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.
Our reputation and credibility:
We have a proven track record of success in DWI cases and provide you with confidence and peace of mind knowing that your case is in good hands.
Our access to resources:
We have access to resources, such as expert witnesses or forensic specialists, that can help build a strong defense and challenge the prosecution’s evidence.
Call us at (214) 903-4000.