DWI Defense Lawyers in Wise County, Texas
DWI defense is an area of criminal law that requires strong criminal defense expertise. The Law Offices of Steven Williams has handled many DWI defense cases in Wise County, Texas, and in the surrounding counties and communities.
The Texas Penal Code reads that “A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.” Meaning that driving on a public roadway while intoxicated, whether by means of alcohol or drugs, illegal or prescription, constitutes the crime of DWI
(Driving While Intoxicated). DWI’s are treated by Texas Courts as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the circumstances of the DWI and the prior record of the accused. Driving while intoxicated is determined by the record of the accused as follows:
- a first offense in Texas, is a Class B misdemeanor in most cases;
- a second offense in Texas, is a Class A misdemeanor in most cases; and
- a third offense in Texas, is a Third Degree felony in most cases.
The elements that must be proven are to make a DWI case are as follows:
The Defendant, on or about a particular date, was:
- Operating a motor vehicle;
- In a public place (street, highway, parking lot, beach, etc.)
- In a particular county; and
- Intoxicated (either by alcohol, drugs (legal or illegal), or both)
The Texas DWI Law then defines the term intoxication in two ways:
- 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 these substances, or any other substance into the body; or
- Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
Types of DWI Cases
As expert DWI defense attorneys, the attorneys of the Law Offices of Steven Williams have had success with the following DWI case types:
- Intoxication Assault
- Texas Open Container Violations
- Teenage Drunk Driving
- Ignition Interlock Violations
- Repeat Offenders
- Driving under the influence with a child passenger
- Cases involving an unusually high BAC (Blood Alcohol Level)
Punishment Classification and Ranges for DWI’s
A DWI in Texas is what one might describe as a “graduating punishment” crime. Meaning that each DWI a person receives carries an enhanced classification as to the seriousness of the crime, which naturally carries an enhanced punishment.
In most cases, a first-offense DWI is classified as a Class B Misdemeanor, and of those who receive a conviction most are granted probation. The general length of DWI probation is one to two years, and generally carries a fine of $500.00-$1000.00. Even though a first-offense DWI is less serious Class B Misdemeanor crime, there are still many consequences and conditions associated with a conviction. Of one of the most imposing and costly consequences are those that affect your Driver’s License. If at the time of your arrest, you fail a breath or blood test, or refuse to submit to either or both, your license will be automatically suspended for either 90 days (for a failed test) or 180 days (for a refusal to test). But what is more costly are the surcharges that are placed against your driver’s license upon a final conviction of a first DWI, which are set by the State of Texas at $1,000.00 per year for three (3) years, for a total of $3,000.00. Failure to pay such surcharges once they are assessed by the State will result in the further suspension of your Driver’s License.
Furthermore, other than simply reporting to a probation officer each month and paying a probation fee, and your assessed fine, there are many other conditions required of you to fulfill your terms of a first-offense DWI probation. These conditions include Drug/Alcohol Evaluations, attendance of a MADD Victim Impact Panel, a state mandated 3-day Alcohol Education Course, and community service hours that could range from 20-40 total hours. Additional conditions of probation may be ordered if the case presents unusual facts such as an accident, an extremely high breath or blood alcohol content, or a bad driving record. These conditions include the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, a breathalyzer detection device in your home, or possibly jail time.
Enhanced penalties apply if it is shown that a person has been previously convicted of DWI. The offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor for a DWI 2nd offense, and the penalties increase accordingly, including potentially one year in county jail, probation of more than two years, and a higher fine amount. If given probation, you will again have to report to a probation officer every month, pay a probation fee, pay your assessed fine amount, attend the MADD Victim Impact Panel and state mandated 3-day Alcohol Education Course again, and perform community service hours. Also, when facing a DWI-2nd you will in all likelihood be required to have ignition interlock device on your vehicle or a home unit for your entire probation period. Furthermore, you will again face automatic Driver’s License suspension, if at the time of your arrest, you fail a breath or blood test, or refuse to submit to either or both. The license suspension penalties are also enhanced when facing a DWI-2d, in that your license will be automatically suspended for either 180 days (for a failed test) or 1 year (for a refusal to test), also more costly for a DWI-2d are the surcharges that are placed against your driver’s license upon a final conviction, which for a DWI-2d are set by the State of Texas at $1,500.00 per year for three (3) years, for a total of $4,500.00.
An offense of a DWI-3rd or more is classified as 3rd degree felony, and carries up to 10 years state imprisonment. Most persons faced with a DWI-3rd or more will likely face some jail time, but, in the event that probation is given, it will be Felony Probation, which has much more stringent requirements, and higher fine amounts. Furthermore, your Driver’s License will again be automatically suspended, and the state will assess surcharges in the amount of $2,000.00 per year for 3 years, totaling $6,000.
Texas DWI and Administrative License Suspension
A DWI arrest in Texas creates two cases — the criminal charge and also a civil proceeding against the motorist’s driving privileges. This is called an Administrative License Revocation (ALR).
An ALR proceeding is initiated against a driver arrested for DWI when, at the time of arrest, he or she refuses to submit to blood or Breathalyzer testing, or fails a blood or Breathalyzer test. As discussed above, suspension of your Driver’s License is automatic and will take effect on 41st day after the arrest, unless an ALR hearing is requested within 15 days of the arrest! Failure to make a timely request will result in the automatic suspension periods set forth in detail above.
The attorneys with the Law Offices of Steven Williams are experienced in the handling of DWI cases and ALR proceedings, and with our experience comes the knowledge that an ALR hearing should always be requested as part of a vigorous and aggressive defense for our client, as a successful outcome of an ALR hearing can prevent the Driver’s License suspensions at stake. Furthermore, the ALR hearing is also an excellent way to gain insight into the State’s case against you, by obtaining discovery, which includes documents such as police reports and affidavits, videos, DVD’s, and CD’s, and also affords us to conduct a pre-trial cross-examination of the arresting officer. These evidentiary findings available through the ALR can later place us at a great advantage defending you in the criminal DWI case.
When facing a DWI charge, whether it’s a first, second, or third/more, it is important to immediately get the experienced and reliable legal assistance you need, especially with the limited amount of time that the law requires to request the ALR hearing regarding your license suspension. We take pride in representing our clients throughout Wise County, Texas, including the surrounding counties and communities. Allow our leverage, experience, and knowledge of the law and the local prosecution and standards with regard to DWI cases to help you with your DWI defense, and call us today at (940) 627-6060 to arrange your free initial consultation.