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DWI/Drunk Driving

An arrest for a DWI can be an overwhelming and intimidating process. You may not know what should be your next step in the lengthy process. It is important to know drunk driving accusations require serious attention from the moment you are pulled over. You have the right to build a defense against the charges with experienced legal representation.

The offenses can have serious penalties, including suspension of your driver’s license, fines, jail time and a criminal record. These can have serious consequences on your life, including difficulty finding employment or potentially losing a job where you are employed at the time of the offense. However, an arrest does not have to mean a conviction. A San Antonio DWI attorney can help.

DWI Defense Lawyer in San Antonio, Texas

If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI, also referred to as DUI) or the closely related underage offense of driving under the influence (DUI), the San Antonio DWI defense attorneys at Goldstein & Orr will explore all opportunities for avoiding conviction or reducing the consequences.

The attorneys have years of experience fighting drinking and driving charges, and they can use their knowledge to help you build the best defense possible. The nationally renowned team will work with you to make sure your rights are represented throughout the process.

Goldstein & Orr represents clients throughout the San Antonio areas and other cities throughout Texas. Contact the attorneys at Goldstein & Orr by calling (210) 226-1463 for a free initial phone consultation. The key to avoiding prosecution is a strong defense. Get started with the attorneys today.

Overview of Texas DWI Law

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DUI Laws in Texas

A person can be found guilty of driving while intoxicated if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. In Texas, a person is considered intoxicated if he or she no longer has normal control over his or her mental or physical faculties, due to the consumption of drugs, alcohol or the combination of those substances, according to Texas Penal Code Annotated § 49.01.

A person also could be considered intoxicated based on the results of a chemical test. If a chemical test shows a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher, he or she could be considered intoxicated. If a driver’s BAC is measured above the legal limit, he or she automatically will be arrested, regardless of their ability to demonstrate normal control over their mental or physical faculties.

Law enforcement officers can use a variety of chemical tests to determine if a person is under the influence. Generally a breath test is used to determine BAC, but blood tests and field sobriety tests also can be used to determine whether you have an excessive BAC. As a driver you can refuse to submit to those tests, but there could be consequences.

In Texas, if you refuse to submit to a chemical test when you are arrested for a DWI, your driver’s license will be suspended automatically. Additionally, you could be brought before a judge and, if appropriate, a warrant would be signed to require a blood draw. This is called a No Refusal DWI.

Once your driver’s license is suspended, you do have options. You are entitled to an administrative license revocation hearing where you may contest the suspension along. This is separate from the criminal charges, but you still have the right to legal counsel.

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Do I Need a Lawyer for a DWI in Texas?

A police officer who suspects a person of driving while intoxicated will ask him or her to submit to a test to determine intoxication. While there is a constitutional right to refuse, Bexar County’s “No Refusal” policy allows police to obtain a search warrant for the suspect’s blood.

Many DWI cases proceed without legally acceptable evidence because the prosecutors hope the defendants will plead guilty without scrutinizing their case. For this and many other reasons, it’s important you hire an experienced attorney such as the team over at Goldstein & Orr if you’ve been charged with DWI.

Our attorneys are experienced at examining the evidence to determine whether the state can prove you violated DWI laws. We are highly knowledgeable about the different breathalyzer tests that are used, what procedures must be followed in order to get reliable results and what factors might cause the tests to malfunction.

We also are trained in and are very familiar with the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. We are skilled at identifying where the tests administered by the police deviated from the standard methods, which could decrease their reliability.

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What is The Punishment for DWI in Texas?

The penalties for a drunk driving conviction depend mostly upon the circumstances surrounding the case, including whether or not the defendant has any prior DWI convictions. Other factors include if there were any injuries involved in the DWI or any property damage. Some DWI penalties in Texas include:

For a first offense of DWI the following punishment apply:

  • Between three to 180 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • A driver’s license suspension for up to one year
  • Annual surcharges ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years

For a second offense of DWI the following punishments apply:

  • Between 30 to 364 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • A driver’s license suspension for up to two years
  • Annual surcharges of ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 a year for three years
  • After two or more DWI convictions within a five-year period, the installation of a special ignition switch is required

For a third offense of DWI the following punishments apply:

  • Between two to 10 years in prison
  • A $10,000 fine
  • A driver’s license suspension of up to two years
  • Annual surcharges up to $2,000 per year for three years
  • After two or more DWI convictions within a five-year period, the installation of a special ignition switch is required

Other related penalties can include probation, community supervision, community service, ignition interlock devices, drug and alcohol education courses, DWI school, additional court fees and more fines.

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How Much Does a DWI Cost in Texas?

After an arrest, it’s common to fixate on the statutory penalties of DWI and not take into the actual cost of a conviction. In the state of Texas, the judicial system is an expensive one to go through. Throughout the entire process of arrest, booking, and trial you’ll be facing various fees and costs you must pay to proceed through the process. These fines can range from $25 to thousands, and failure to pay them could result in further consequences.

Listed below are some direct and indirect costs associated with a DWI conviction.

  • Court fees
  • Conviction fees
  • DPS annual surcharges
  • Bail bonds
  • Booking fees
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Monthly calibration payments for said IID
  • Towing fees
  • Car storage fees (by the day)
  • The cost of substance or alcohol abuse evaluation
  • Payment for substance or alcohol abuse courses
  • Higher car insurance premiums
  • License reinstatement fees

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Can a DWI Conviction Be Expunged in Texas?

The state of Texas offers expunction to those who qualify so they can finally erase their criminal record and move on from their past. Expungement is a wonderful opportunity for ex-offenders who’ve encountered roadblocks because of their criminal record. The expunction will remove any mention of your arrest or charges in a background check, so you will no longer face discrimination while looking for employment, housing, and applying for a loan.

However, you cannot petition for expungement if you were convicted of DWI. The only way you are eligible for expunction is if your DWI charges resulted in one of the following outcomes.

  • Acquitted of all charges
  • Pardoned of all charges
  • Arrested, but never charged with DWI
  • Charges were reduced and ultimately dismissed
  • Acquitted by the court of criminal appeals

Before you can apply for expungement, you must wait a certain amount of time depending on what type of charges you were facing. After the waiting period has passed, you will be able to file a petition for expungement. Listed below are the waiting periods for expunction under Texas Government Code Section 411.081(d)

  • Misdemeanor DWI – One year from the date of the arrest.
  • Felony DWI – Three years from the date of arrest.

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Related Charges to DWI in Texas

If an accident occurs causing injury or death and it is alleged that a driver was intoxicated, that driver may face other significant charges under Texas law:

  • Intoxication Assault is defined under Texas Penal Code § 49.07 as operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and causing an injury that involves substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss. Intoxication assault is a felony of the third degree punishable by two to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000 fine or both.
  • Intoxication Manslaughter involves causing death while driving a vehicle while intoxicated, according to Texas Penal Code § 49.08. The offense can be charged as either a second-degree felony or a first-degree felony.

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Additional DWI Resources in Texas

Bexar County DA on DWI – Bexar County Criminal District Attorney, Susan D. Reed, discusses Texas DWI implied content law. The website also provides information about the District Attorney’s Office new “No Refusal” policy and the number of arrests made under the new program in 2013.

Texas Department of Transportation on DWI – The TxDOT website provides information to the public on Texas DWI law, including possible administrative actions to immediately suspend the driver’s license of the person accused.

Bexar County DWI Court – This link provides information about the Bexar County DWI Court. The court is designed to increase public safety and offender accountability through therapeutic judicial management, collaborative treatment, education and supervision.

Alcoholics Anonymous of San Antonio – Alcoholics Anonymous is a program for men and women who are dedicated to stop their addictions to alcohol. The program is a system that allows them to work together for sobriety.

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Texas DWI Defense Attorneys in San Antonio

If you were arrested for DWI in San Antonio or in any part of Bexar County, contact an experienced DWI attorney at Goldstein & Orr. We can help you at every stage of the case. Call (210) 226-1463 to discuss the fact of your case.

Goldstein & Orr accepts clients throughout the Bexar County and the whole state of Texas including San Antonio, Converse, Live Oak, Leon Valley, Alamo Heights, Castle Hills, and Elmendorf.

(210) 226-1463
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