Your Future Is At Risk
It is important to obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney quickly after an arrest for DWI so that your attorney can preserve your rights to attack the DWI charge. Just because you are accused of driving while intoxicated, under the influence or ability impaired, does not mean you should just accept your punishment and plead guilty to a crime that will remain on your record forever. As DWI defense attorneys we know this is a serious offense that deserves the attention of law enforcement. However a lot of good, honest and hard working people make mistakes. However, just because you had some alcohol in your system doesn't mean that your were intoxicated under Texas law. You also have to remember that just because the police conclude you were driving while intoxicated does not mean in fact you are. Doctors, teachers, or lawyers can be incorrect, and so a police officer, prosecutor or the machinery they use in determining your intoxication can be wrong as well.
Amarillo DWI Lawyer
The impact a DWI conviction can have on all aspects of your life are devastating. There will be fines and license suspension, and jeopardy to your career and livelihood. You should know that no DWI conviction will be expunged from your record. A conviction is permanent and life long - and so are the consequences. The stakes couldn't be higher. Don't let a DWI arrest ruin your career and life. If you have been arrested for DWI in the Amarillo area or anywhere in the Panhandle, contact our office to schedule your free and confidential consultation with criminal defense attorney David Enos to discuss the specific facts of your DWI case.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Information about DWI in Texas
What is Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) under Texas Law?
A person with a regular drivers license that is arrested for driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher may be charged with driving while intoxicated or DWI. A first offense for DWI is a class B misdemeanor. If the driver is arrested for a high BAC of .12% or higher, increased penalties may apply. If a driver has been convicted of DWI within the past ten years, or caused an accident with injuries, he may be charged with felony DWI. In addition, driving while intoxicated with a passenger under the age of fifteen may also result in a felony DWI charge.
Holders of a commercial driver's license can be charged with DWI for a blood alcohol content of .04% for driving any type of motorized vehicle. A DWI conviction in Texas means an automatic revocation of a commercial driver's license.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Drivers under the age of twenty-one are subject to being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Texas is a zero tolerance state, which means that any detectible BAC at all can result in DUI charges.
For a minor's first DUI offense, the penalties can include sixty days license suspension, a fine of up to $500, community service, and mandatory enrollment in an alcohol-awareness program. If the driver is under eighteen years of age, a DUI charge will require a parent or guardian to accompany all court appearances. The penalties may include community service, alcohol-awareness training, and a suspended driver's license. If the minor's BAC exceeds .08% or higher, the penalties may be greatly increased, including a fine of up to $2000, 180 days in jail, and one year license suspension.
The Breathalyzer Test in Texas Called the Intoxilyzer 5000
The Intoxilyzer 5000 is the breath test machine used throughout Texas to test possibly intoxicated persons who have been arrested for DWI and DUI under the current implied consent law. This machine is manufactured by CMI, Incorporated and is the predominant machine in the United States for breath testing by law enforcement personnel. The Intoxilyzer 5000 is simply a computer based on very old technology. The brains of this outfit is a Z-80 microprocessor which was introduced almost 30 years ago in 1975. The Z-80 microprocessor was the basis for some of the very first home computers in the early 1980's
The Intoxilyzer 5000 works on the theory of infrared absorption. The machine has a light bulb positioned at one end of a breath capture cylinder. There are filter wheels at the other end of the cylinder and on the other side of these filter wheels is a light receiver.
A person suspected of or under arrest for DWI will blow into a breath tube which leads to a breath chamber cylinder. The machine shines a light through this cylinder and the filter wheels will be spinning on the other end of the breath tube chamber. The infrared light causes the alcohol molecules to "vibrate" or "absorb" light at a particular frequency. The filter wheels are designed to filter out potential contaminants.
The amount of the breath sample and any reading of alcohol are very minute. The machine must make a multiplication conversion to an amount great enough for us to understand. The difference in light emitted and received is computed through a computer program in the machine to come up a value that can be compared to a .08. The conversion the machine makes on the differences in light would be the equivalent of taking the paper towel tube and increasing its size to that of a 55 gallon drum! Any error would then be exaggerated by that amount.
HOW RELIABLE IS THE BREATH TEST?
Texas law only requires that the Intoxilyzer 5000 perform within a plus or minus 10% accuracy rate. This means that a 20% variance in "ok for government work". When the machine is periodically checked for proper function and accuracy and known value of alcohol solution -- 0.080 -- is used to test the machine, if the results are within 0.072 and 0.088 the machine is deemed to be working properly.
An everyday example is if you are stopped and arrested for DWI and take a breath test, and you blow a 0.080, when your actual alcohol content is something less, you still face the additional charge of driving with a .08 or higher. Very Scary.
The manufacturer does not warrant the Intoxilyzer 5000 for any particular purpose.The machine is not warranted for accurate and reliable breath testing.
So, would a smart person submit to such at test?
The Criminal DWI Charge vs. the Civil ALR Case
When a person is arrested for DWI, there are two cases involved: a criminal case and a civil case. The criminal case is prosecuted through the local criminal court system according to the Texas law. This where you have to worry about jail time or probation.
The other case is a civil case reviewed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV reviews the case for an Administrative License Revocation, also known as an ALR. An ALR can result from refusal to submit to breath test or a result of .08 or greater.Once the DMV serves a driver with notice of an ALR, the driver has FIFTEEN days to request a hearing. If the driver fails to request a hearing, the suspension automatically goes into place on the 40th day after the notice from the DMV. This is why you should contact a DWI attorney immediately after your arrest, as the window for response to the DMV notice is narrow.
Occupational Driver's License - Get your license back
If your driver's license gets suspended as discussed above you can petition the court for an Occupational Driver's License. See our Occupational Driver's License page for more information.
The Criminal Penalties for DWI under Texas Law
Under Texas law, the penalties for DWI can vary, depending on the number of prior DWI convictions.
First DWI under Texas Law
Class B Misdemeanor. Punishments can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Up to six months behind bars;
- Suspended driver’s license for up to one year;
- $1,000.00 every year for the next three years to keep your driver’s license;
- First time offenders must also complete a 12 hour DWI Education Program within 180 days of when probation was granted or risk having their license revoked; and
- Community Service of not less than 24 hours, but not more than 100 hours.
Second DWI under Texas Law
Class A Misdemeanor. Punishments upon conviction can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Suspended driver’s license for up to two years; and
- $1,500.00 for every year for three years to keep your driver’s license.
Third or Subsequent DWI
A third DWI in the state of Texas is a 3rd degree felony. Texas law does not provide or any increased punishment after a third DWI offense. A third DWI conviction or guilty plea can result in the following punishments:
- $10,000.00 maximum fine
- Two to ten years in prison
- Suspension of driver’s license for up to two years
- $2,000.00 every year for three years to keep your driver’s license
- Community Service for a minimum 80 hours, but no more than 200 hours
A fourth DWI guilty plea or conviction can result in two to ten years in prison without probation.
DWI with Minor in Vehicle
It is a felony in the state of Texas to operate a vehicle while intoxicated with a minor under the age of 15 in the vehicle. A conviction of a DWI with a minor in the vehicle can result in a punishment of:
A fine of up to $10,000.00; and A prison term of at least 180 days and up to 2 years.
Start Your Defense Today
The first step in fighting the charges that have been filed against you is hiring an attorney who will aggressively fight for you. Contact David Enos, Attorney at Law today to schedule a free consultation for your case. Call (806) 372-7307
Information on this website is based on general principles of law. They may not apply to your situation. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice and no reliance should be placed on the legal principles set forth in this website. This is why you should personally consult with attorney David Enos about your case.