"A first conviction for DWI in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor, but it is a serious matter. A DWI conviction costs money in fines and other costs, raises your insurance premiums, and can affect your employment situation. In Texas, by law, you cannot get deferred adjudication for a DWI." John Helms, Dallas DWI Defense Attorney.
If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated in Texas, you’ve probably already started searching for information about your legal rights. Understandably, you want to know how to handle your case to minimize the impact of the DWI on your personal and professional life.
Unfortunately, not all the information you might stumble across is accurate. Here are five DWI myths to be aware of.
1. You Can Only Be Charged with Drunk Driving If Your BAC Is .08 or Higher
Under Texas law, the police have the authority to place a motorist under arrest if they believe the person is too impaired to drive safely. While the “legal limit” for blood alcohol concentration is .08, this doesn’t mean that a BAC under the legal limit automatically means a person is immune from arrest.
In fact, the police will place you under arrest prior to asking you to submit to a breath or blood test. The police will typically use their own observations of your behavior, including the results of field sobriety tests, to determine if you are too impaired to drive.
From there, they can ask you if you’re willing to take a breath or blood test, which you have the right to refuse. However, the police still have the authority to take you into custody.
Even more fundamentally, you can be convicted of a DWI if you have lost your normal physical and mental abilities, even if your actual blood alcohol content is not known.
2. You Can’t Get Arrested for DWI If You Park and Sleep Off Your Intoxication
If you’ve ever felt too intoxicated to drive, you might have pulled over and attempted to sleep until you feel safe to continue. While this is definitely more responsible than continuing behind the wheel, it won’t necessarily stop you from getting arrested for DWI.
The bottom line is that you don’t need to be in motion to get a DWI. Simply sitting in your car can sometimes be enough for police to consider you in operation of your vehicle.
However, there are several things you should do to help decrease the risk of getting a DWI if you decide to stop. You should always park in a parking spot rather than just pulling over to the side of the road. You should also turn off your engine and remove any keys from the ignition. It may also help to move to the passenger seat if you intend to sleep. If you stay in the driver’s seat, you should try to remain awake and alert.
3. Breathalyzers Don’t Make Mistakes
Many people believe that a breath test is the ultimate piece of damaging evidence for police and prosecutors. However, this simply isn’t the case. There are several things that can cause an inaccurate results, from improper calibration of the machine to various health conditions.
It’s even possible for something a person recently ate to throw off the results of a breath test. In some case, an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer can submit evidence that the police officer operating the machine wasn’t properly trained to perform breath tests. This can result in the court suppressing the evidence, which can result in reduced charges or even an acquittal.
4. People Charged with DWI Should Plead Guilty to Speed Up Their Case
Just because you’ve been charged with DWI doesn’t mean the prosecution will always secure a conviction against you. There are several ways to fight a DWI charge. However, you can’t mount a defense if you plead guilty from the start.
This is why it’s important to discuss your case with a Texas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
5. You Are Required to Answer All Police Questions If You’re Stopped
It’s normal to feel nervous and frightened when you’re stopped by the police. Many people panic and offer up unlimited information to the police. This can be extremely damaging to any future defense case.
If you’re pulled over by the police, you have the right to stay silent. You must answer basic questions about your name, birthdate, and address, but you don’t have to provide any information about where you’ve been or what destination you’re traveling to.
On the other hand, it’s always a good idea to be respectful and courteous toward police officers. If you’re confused, you can ask them to repeat a question or to slow down their line of questioning. Keep in mind, however, that you’re under no obligation to provide anything other than basic identifying information.
Talk to a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your DWI Case
If you have been charged with DWI, it’s important to discuss your case with a Dallas DWI Defense Lawyer. A drunk driving conviction can impact just about every area of your life, including your personal relationships, your career, and even your ability to find housing. Don’t leave your future to chance. Talk with a Texas criminal defense lawyer about your options.