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Texas DWI/DUI FAQ

Houston DWI Attorney

Have you been arrested for a drunk driving offense? Looking for a lawyer for a DWI case in Houston, TX? DWI/DUI is a serious offense in Texas and it could cost you your license to drive and your freedom. If you are facing DWI charges, take immediate action and get a DWI lawyer involved as soon as possible. The DWI process can be complex, so here is a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions to help you with your case.

Q: When a police officer asks me to perform the field sobriety tests, should I comply?
Q: Should I submit to a breath test if the police ask me to?
Q: If my breath test shows that I am above the legal limit are there ways to contest the results?
Q: Can a first time DWI conviction land me in jail?
Q: What does DWI probation entail?
Q: How much can a DWI conviction cost me?
Q: Do police officers need to read me my rights if I am arrested for DWI?
Q: What if I have prior DWI convictions on my record?
Q: How long will a DWI conviction remain on my driving record?

When a police officer asks me to perform the field sobriety tests, should I comply?

According to Texas State law, you are not legally required to perform the sobriety exercises when law enforcement officers ask you too. If you have not been driving in a reckless manner, then you may feel that there is no reason you should perform them. You should be aware however, that when you refuse the officers may become upset or tell you that they will arrest you. Often, they are planning on arresting you anyway and simply gathering more evidence to be used against you later.

These so-called standard field sobriety tests are supposed to check your balance and ability to perform different tasks at the same time. However, they are frequently not administered correctly and fairly. The three field sobriety tests are called the walk and turn, one-leg stand and a nystagmus eye test. By nature these three tests are difficult and any mistake could make is seem like you have been drinking. Some say that these tests set you up for failure.

If you don't perform precisely as well as the officers believe that you should, they will attempt to use it as probable cause for your arrest, a search warrant for your blood, and evidence of guilt at any trial.

Should I submit to a breath test if the police ask me to?

Why would you? People who refuse and aren't tested by warrant frequently pay lower costs, don't have the same bail conditions, and have a greater chance of winning their case. The few people who "pass" are often held anyway and accused of having "sobered up" or being under the a drug.

Under Texas law, a person who refuses to submit a sample of their blood, breath, or urine, may lose their license for 180 days or longer (See Administrative License Revocations). Someone who submits and fails loses it for 90 days or longer. If later convicted, people who have samples that test in excess of twice the legal limit of .08 will pay higher surcharges on an annual basis. Moreover, even first offenders with high test results may have to have an alcohol testing device imposed on them or their car as a condition of bond at their own expense.

If a police officer asks you to submit to a breath test right there at the road side, be advised that these types of hand-held machines have not yet been certified for use in Texas. The breath test devices that they use at the police station are completely different and they are thought to be much more reliable. However, they are not. While Texas has plans to replace the Intoxilyzer 5000 machines used by many, if not most, of its police departments, it has not yet. This is a machine based upon some of the same technology, and often using the same chip, as the Atari 2600 game console of more than 30 years ago. In fact, it may not be capable of detecting interference from cellular and other mobile devices because they operate at different frequencies than those measured by its sensors.

If my breath test shows that I am above the legal limit are there ways to contest the results?

Yes, as discussed here, breath tests are frequently inaccurate. The margin of error alone may turn a .08 into a .12. Even if the machine is functioning correctly and is operated competently - both of which are often subject to challenge - there are many other things that can cause high results on a breath test besides the presence of alcohol in the blood. For example, if someone has been on the Atkins diet for over 3 months, if you have had extensive dental work recently, or if you've been exposed to certain chemicals, paints or cleaning products, then your results could be abnormally high.

A breath test is simply an accusation. You can't assume that it is correct, juries don't. Breath and Blood test cases result in not guilty verdicts and dismissals in Harris and surrounding counties every week of the year.

Can a first time DWI conviction land me in jail?

Most first time DWI offenders in the Houston area receive probation with no jail time as a condition. If anyone was injured in the drunk driving accident or you had a minor present with you in the vehicle, then it could be a different story. Repeat offenders may be required by law to perform jail time as a condition of any probation. That said, a jail sentence can almost always be negotiated for any defendant. For first offenders, however, there may be an additional license suspension if any sentence is not probated.

What does DWI probation entail?

If you are put on probation for a DWI offense, then you could expect conditions which establish that you cannot:

  • Consume Drugs or Alcohol
  • Go to Bars or around criminals
  • Miss your probation meetings
  • Fail to pay your legal fines
  • Commit another crime

You could also be required to complete a DWI program, attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving panel and perform community service during your probation.

How much can a DWI conviction cost me?

Without an attorney, you could end up paying monthly probation fees, any damages caused in the drunk driving accident, court fees, towing fees, jail bonds and higher insurance rates. To give you a rough estimate, you should read this blog post.

Do police officers need to read me my rights if I am arrested for DWI?

Police Officers will usually NOT read you your Miranda warnings if you are stopped for DWI offense until after they have administered the so-called standard field sobriety tests and requested blood or breath. It does NOT mean you don't have the right to remain silent - they just don't want to remind you of it and our courts let them get away with it.

So if you are in your vehicle and they ask you if you have been drinking, remember that they can use anything that you say against you. If you freely tell them how many drinks you have had, then they could take you into arrest and use that statement even without reading you your rights. Just remember that these rights still apply and you have the right to remain silent. You don't have to answer their questions. They won't like it, but you can say, "thank you, but I'd like to receive my ticket and be on my way."

What if I have prior DWI convictions on my record?

If you have been convicted of DWI in the past, then that could make your next DWI an enhanced offense. This could easily lead to stiffer penalties, higher fines and longer confinement. According to Texas law, anyone that has two or more DWI conviction could be charged with a felony which is punishable for 2-10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.

How long will a DWI conviction remain on my driving record?

Forever.

Searching for a lawyer for your DWI case?

If you have any further questions regarding DWI/DUI, contact the Law Offices of Q. Tate Williams, P.C. today!


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Law Offices of Q. Tate Williams, P.C. - Criminal Defense Lawyer in Houston
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