If you’ve been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, you have only 15 days to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. Your best chance to avoid serving jail time or having your license suspended is by finding a law office that specializes in criminal defense.
With such a limited time frame, it’s essential to understand the Texas DWI Statute and the legal definition of “intoxicated” in Texas. Most importantly, be aware that the breath and blood test results are not always accurate and you need to protect your rights.
Texas DWI Laws
The section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code explains DWI under Texas laws. Note that it doesn’t use the word “drunk”, but “intoxicated”:
“A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.”
Three main aggravating factors increase the severity of DWI charges in Texas:
- If you have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle at the time of the offense.
- If you have a passenger under 15 years old.
- If you have an alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more in your blood or breath.
Typically, a DWI conviction has a significant impact on a person’s life because he or she can be sentenced with jail time, fines, community service, probation, surcharges, license suspensions
and mandatory rehabilitation.
The Legal Definition of “Intoxicated”
Section 49.01 of the Texas Penal Code defines “intoxicated” as:
(A) 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; or
(B) having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
While the alcohol concentration level can be tested through a breathalyzer or through a blood
draw, the other condition requires field sobriety tests and a judgment call by the police officer.
Are Sobriety Tests Accurate?
Breathalyzers detect and measure alcohol molecules in your breath. As your body metabolizes alcohol, it enters the bloodstream and escapes in the form of vapor after passing through your lungs. The problem is that breathalyzers are affected by physiological differences among
drivers, improper calibration, and what a person has put in his or her mouth besides alcohol.
As well as breathalyzers, field sobriety tests aren’t entirely foolproof. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, their accuracy ranges from 65% to 77% when done right. If the officer doesn’t follow the correct procedure, the driver can be unfairly considered intoxicated.
Know Your Rights
Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in Texas, but it’s important to remember that being accused doesn’t mean you’re guilty. If you’re pulled over or arrested, remember your rights:
- You can refuse to submit to the blood alcohol test, but you’ll be served with a Notice of Suspension and provided with a temporary driver’s permit.
- From the time of your arrest, you have 15 days to request an ALR hearing to contest the suspension of your driver’s license if you refuse.
- If you’re a first-time DWI offender in Texas, you might be eligible for sealing your record in the future.
- Your defense attorney will request a copy of the arrest video and use it to dispute the officer’s testimony. The video might help you invalidate field sobriety tests that didn’t meet standards.
We hope this article helps you understand DWI under Texas laws. Whether you need legal representation or you have more questions, contact the Gilbert G. Garcia law firm through their website or by calling (936) 756-3333 for a free consultation.