Proving Your Innocence: How to Contest a DWI Charge in Texas
There are more than 220 million licensed drivers in the US.
Driving has become an essential part of how we carry out daily responsibility. This is why losing your license can be economically devastating, not to mention the toll it takes on our emotional well being.
But if you've been charged with a DWI, there's a good chance you're looking at losing your license. That is unless you know how to contest a DWI charge.
A DWI charge isn't a hopeless case. Keep reading to learn why you should fight it and how.
Why Contest a DWI Charge?
An acronym for driving while intoxicated, DWI's are only a misdemeanor for first offenses in Texas. That doesn't sound so bad until you consider that a DWI conviction comes with far more serious penalties than most other misdemeanor charges. It could lead to fines, expensive administrative fees, a suspended license, and even jail time.
But there are a number of other hidden costs you should also consider:
- Car towing and impounding
- Court-ordered DWI classes
- Inability to ever rent a vehicle again
- Inability to drive a company vehicle
- Loss of commercial driver's license
- Loss of pilot's license
- Delay or denial of green card application for US citizenship
- Health insurance costs
- Inability to travel to some countries (i.e. Canada)
- Credit rating increase
- Evictions from rental properties
In terms of employment, it's likely that many employers deny your application after performing a criminal background check and finding a DUI conviction. Keep in mind, too, that a DUI conviction is never removed from your record.
What to Do Immediately Following the DWI
Before anything else, the first thing you should do after getting a DWI charge is to record all of the details of the incident. It's important to do this while the details are still fresh in your memory.
Write down everything you can remember about what happened before, during, and after you were pulled over. Write down any details about what the officer said and what tests you were asked to perform.
You should also write down times, dates, intersections, and even details about the weather. The more specific information you have on hand, the better.
It's also important to note that you'll only have 15 days to fight for your driver's license. Your driver's license can be automatically suspended following a DUI charge - you don't have to be convicted to lose your license. This is a big part of the reason you should seek legal counsel immediately following the DWI charge.
How to Contest a DWI Charge
There are a few ways to contest a DWI charge. Below, we offer some of the potential arguments an experienced attorney might use.
Invalid Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests are not always accurate and are anything but standardized. Depending on if and how a field sobriety test was given, you might be able to argue that they were invalid or improperly administered.
Common field sobriety tests include asking you to say the alphabet, walk a straight line, count backward, or touch your nose with rotating fingers. In some cases, you can argue that these tests aren't proper evidence of intoxication and have the case dismissed.
For example, you might argue that the arresting officer had no baseline from which to determine intoxicated behavior. Without knowing the individuals and what their normal behavior is, it's impossible to know if they would pass these tests in sobriety.
Law enforcement would like you to believe that breathalyzers are an accurate measure of intoxication. But the truth is that they are anything but. These tests can have inaccurate results for a number of reasons.
For example, smoking a cigarette before getting pulled over can affect the results of some tests. If you recently had dental work, it's also possible that alcohol was trapped in your mouth, causing you to blow over. It's also possible that the test itself was not administered properly, deeming it invalid evidence.
Invalid Blood Tests
Blood tests are also an inaccurate measure of blood alcohol level (BAC). It's possible to argue that the blood fermented between the time of being pulled over and the time of the blood test. This would lead to an increased BAC through no fault of the driver.
There are a number of extenuating circumstances that invalidate the results of field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. For example, people with injuries and certain medical conditions may be unable to walk a straight line or recite the alphabet. People that are more than 50 lbs overweight can also fail certain types of tests, such as the walk-and-turn.
Lack of Probable Cause
In order for you to be pulled over and tested within the bounds of the law, certain facts must be present. If the arresting officer can't prove these facts, then the officer didn't have probable cause to arrest you and you were arrested illegally. If your attorney can prove this, your suspension will be reversed and the evidence is suppressed at trial.
How to Contest a DWI Conviction
If you're convicted of a DWI, the case isn't necessarily over. Most people convicted of a DWI have the opportunity to appeal to this charge.
To do so, you'll have to file your notice of appeal. You're given somewhere between 30 and 60 days to file your notice following a hearing at your first trial.
But an appeal is a lengthy process. It takes at least 30 days for the court clerk and court reporter to gather the appellate and another 3 to 6 months to exchange written briefs. It might take days following the oral arguments to come to a final decision but more than likely it will take several months.
Charged With a DWI?
Knowing how to contest a DWI charge is only half the battle. You need an experienced attorney to look through your case and the details of your arrest. Only a professional can find the kind of details that will save you from conviction and knows how to present them in a court of law.
If you're facing a DUI conviction, don't try to do it alone. Contact me for help.