Thousands of Texans are arrested every year for driving while intoxicated (DWI). People who are charged with DWI allegedly exercised poor judgment by getting behind the wheel after having a couple of alcoholic beverages, but many of these individuals may have been charged with drunk driving even though they consumed moderate amounts of alcohol that they honestly believed did not substantially affect their abilities to operate a motor vehicle.
A person who has been charged with DWI for the very first time should understand that being arrested is not the same as being convicted. Similarly, alleged offenders who have no previous drunk driving convictions and possibly no criminal histories should not assume that prosecutors will automatically become merciful in pursuing these charges.
First DWI Defense Lawyer in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, TX
If you were arrested and charged with DWI in Denton County, it is critical for you to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If you either refused to submit to chemical testing or failed blood or breath testing, you will only have 15 days to request an administrative license suspension hearing to get your license back.
Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy represents clients in the greater Lewisville area against DWI charges, including such communities as Denton, The Colony, Flower Mound, and many more. Let our firm review your case and help you understand all of your legal options by calling (940) 222-8004 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Texas Charges for First DWI
Intoxicated is defined under the Texas Penal Code as meaning either:
- not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body
- having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more
A person’s alcohol concentration is most often expressed in terms of blood alcohol content (BAC) is usually determined by a breath testing machine such as the Intoxilyzer 5000. Texas Penal Code § 49.01 specifically defines alcohol concentration as being the number of grams of alcohol per any of the following measurements:
- 210 liters of breath
- 100 milliliters of blood
- 67 milliliters of urine
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.04, a person commits DWI if he or she is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. As long as a person’s alcohol concentration is less than 0.15, this is a Class B misdemeanor that carries a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours. However, if an alleged offender who was operating a motor vehicle had an open container—meaning a bottle, can, or another receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and is open, has been opened, has a broken seal, or the contents of which are partially removed—in his or her immediate possession, then the minimum term of confinement is six days.
First DWI Penalties in Denton
Even if a person has never been previously arrested for DWI, the first conviction for drunk driving can result in very harsh punishments. Some of the possible consequences may include:
- Fine of up to $2,000
- Up to 180 days in jail
- Up to one-year suspension of driver’s license
- Annual Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver Responsibility Surcharge of $1,000 for three years
- Community supervision
- Up to 200 hours of community service
- Mandatory attendance at DWI school and alcohol or drug education program
- Other court and administrative costs
Denton County First DWI Defenses
Every DWI arrest is unique, and certain cases can have very unique defenses because of particularly unusual circumstances. However, some of the common defenses that typically arise in cases of drunk driving usually include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
- Alleged Symptoms of Intoxication Unrelated to Alcohol — It may be possible to be charged with DWI even if you agreed to a blood, breath, or urine test and the results indicated you had an alcohol concentration that was less than 0.08. Again, intoxication is defined as an alleged offender “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties,” but this is based on the completely subjective observations of police officers. It may be entirely possible that these symptoms of alleged intoxication were, in fact, the result of basic fatigue or other factors.
- Inaccurate Alcohol Concentration — The timing and handling of chemical testing may contribute to a flawed test result. Belching, burping, or other circumstances that increase the level of alcohol in your mouth can contribute to high breath test results, as can be tested before a person’s body has fully absorbed alcohol that was recently consumed. Similarly, blood tests in which serum or plasma values are reported as whole blood values can result in alcohol concentration levels that are significantly higher than the alleged offender’s actual BAC.
- No Probable Cause — One of the first things that need to be examined in DWI cases is whether the police officer had a lawful reason to stop the alleged offender in the first place. Swerving within a single lane, levels of window tinting, or driving less than the speed limit are examples of highly questionable stops that could lack reasonable suspicion of DWI and result in cases being thrown out of court.
- Police Procedure Errors — All DWI arrests need to be handled in a specific manner, and any failure by law enforcement to follow these guidelines may lead to cases being dismissed. A few examples of these kinds of oversights can include a police officer not reading an alleged offender his or her Miranda rights prior to interrogation, failing to observe the driver for 15 minutes prior to breath testing, or failing to record certification tests of breath machines.
- Testing Issues — Even if you allegedly failed a chemical test, there may be any number of issues with how a blood, breath, or field sobriety test was conducted that could result in charges being reduced or possibly even dismissed. In addition to possible errors in the administration of these types of tests, there may be an issue with how blood samples were handled, breath testing machinery was calibrated, or the conditions under which field sobriety tests were performed that contributed to inaccurate results.
Removing First DWI in Texas From Your Criminal Record
One of the major consequences of pleading guilty to or being convicted of DWI is that the offense forever appears on a person’s criminal record. This alone should give all alleged offenders reason to make sure that they explore all possible defense options to achieve the most favorable outcome when they have been charged with their first DWI.
It is important to understand that DWI convictions can never be expunged or sealed, as they permanently remain on criminal records. However, records of arrests can be sealed or expunged if the alleged offender was either:
- convicted but then pardoned
- released and never charged
- tried, convicted, and subsequently acquitted by the Court of Criminal Appeals
Additionally, a person who received deferred adjudication after being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol by a minor can have this charge expunged when he or she turns 21 years of age.
Find A Denton County Defense Attorney for First DWI Charges | Law Office of Richard C. McConathy
Have you been charged with DWI in Denton County? Richard C. McConathy has decades of experience handling all types of cases involving alleged drunk driving, and they have a 91 percent success rate since 2002 on DWI cases announced ready for trial.
Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy aggressively defend clients against alleged drunk driving charges in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, and surrounding areas of Denton County, Texas. Call (940) 222-8004 right now to set up a free consultation that will let our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case and begin developing the strongest possible legal defense.