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DWI Lawyer in New Braunfels, Texas, Defending Clients Facing Drunk Driving Charges

The use of alcohol, drugs, or controlled substances while operating a motor vehicle continues to be one of the leading causes of accidents and fatalities in Texas. In an effort to reduce the number of deaths caused by intoxicated drivers, the state continues to update its DWI laws to include progressively harsher penalties and some of the highest fines in the country. Learn how DWI cases work in Texas and your options if you are arrested and charged for driving while intoxicated.

When Is a Person Considered to Be Intoxicated in Texas?

The Texas Penal Code defines intoxication 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.” The alcohol concentration is sometimes referred to as BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration).

The BAC measures how much alcohol is in a person’s bloodstream using a percentage. For example, if an individual’s BAC is 0.10%, it means their blood has one part alcohol for every 1000 parts of blood. In Texas, you cannot legally operate a motor vehicle if your BAC is 0.08% or higher or if you have consumed any substance that impairs your mental and physical abilities. A motor vehicle does not just include passenger cars, trucks, and other vehicles on the roadways but also boats, airplanes, and other types of vehicles that require the operator to be fully alert to operate the vehicle safely. If a person decides to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated, that individual may be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI).

Are DWI Charges Considered Misdemeanors or Felonies?

Most DWI charges are considered misdemeanors in Texas. However, certain circumstances may lead to felony charges. For example, if this is your first offense, your BAC is not too far over the legal limit of 0.08%, and you have not injured anyone while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, chances are you may only be facing a misdemeanor. It is worth noting that misdemeanors still come with significant penalties, which may or may not include jail time.

In contrast, you may be facing felony DWI charges if this is your third offense. In some cases, you may also be charged with a felony if you were operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and ended up seriously injuring another person or causing their death. These circumstances may lead to a felony charge, even if this is your first DWI.

What Are the Penalties for a DWI in Texas?

As discussed above, penalties for DWI charges in Texas get progressively harsher for repeat offenders and when certain aggravating circumstances apply. A first-time DWI offender determined to be intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle may face a Class B misdemeanor charge, which may result in fines and a county jail sentence ranging from three days to six months. They may also face a license suspension ranging from 90 days to a year.

A second DWI offense may result in higher fines, a jail sentence between one month and a year, and up to two years with a suspended license. Third-time DWI offenders may face felony charges, resulting in up to ten years in state prison, a hefty fine of up to $10,000.00, and a license suspension of up to two years. A fourth DWI may also be charged as a felony, resulting in up to 20 years in federal prison.

Certain circumstances may make a DWI offense even more severe. These are called aggravating circumstances and include having a BAC of 0.15% or higher, driving impaired with a child passenger under 15, and driving with an open container. For example, a first-time DWI could end up being a state jail felony if the driver transported a child in the vehicle while intoxicated. If you have been charged with a DWI, contact a skilled DWI defense attorney as soon as possible.

What Happens if You Get a DWI With a Commercial Driver’s License?

If you are a commercial driver and make a living driving a large commercial vehicle such as a truck, semi-truck, or bus, a DWI can truly create havoc in your life and endanger your ability to stay employed. While the BAC limit for non-CDL drivers is 0.08%, those with a commercial driver’s license cannot have a BAC greater than 0.04%. That means if you decide to have two standard drinks with your lunch before starting your shift, for example, your blood alcohol concentration may already be at 0.04% or higher, and you would be considered intoxicated.

DWI charges for a first-time offender are similar to those explained above, but the difference is you may end up having your CDL suspended for up to a year. The suspension can last up to three years if you were transporting hazardous materials while intoxicated. Any subsequent DWI charges could mean your CDL may be taken away permanently. It is worth mentioning that even if you can have your CDL reinstated, you may have difficulty securing employment, as most employers require CDL drivers to have a clean driving record. If you drive a commercial vehicle for a living and get charged with a DWI, you should contact a skilled DWI lawyer immediately, as your attorney could help you find ways to disprove your charges and potentially avoid a license suspension.

What Is an Ignition Interlocking Device, and When Is It Required?

An ignition interlocking device (IID) is similar to a breathalyzer. It is installed in a car and won’t allow the vehicle to start if the driver has been drinking. In order to start the vehicle, the driver must perform a breath test using a handheld unit near the driver’s seat. The vehicle will start if the breath test shows the driver is sober. If the test detects alcohol in the driver’s breath, the vehicle will not start. The IID also requires the driver to randomly provide breath samples while the vehicle is in operation.

First-time DWI offenders may avoid a license suspension by installing an IID in their vehicles at their own expense. Installing an IID is mandatory for drivers with a BAC of 0.15% or higher and those who have committed a second DWI conviction less than ten years after their first conviction.

Can a DWI Lawyer Help You Avoid a Conviction?

A DWI can seriously affect your life in many ways. It will likely stay on your record and make it harder for you to obtain affordable car insurance. It may limit your ability to remain employed or obtain new employment, especially if your job requires you to operate a motor vehicle for a living.

Seymour & Vaughn helps clients charged with DWIs in New Braunfels, Texas, and surrounding areas. Our legal team can help you fight back and defend against your charges. Contact to our office at 830-282-8751 to learn more.