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If you are arrested for DWI, that does not necessarily mean that life as you know it is over. However, while there is hope for your situation, you may not be able to afford going without strong and aggressive legal representation when your future is at stake.
Anyone who is facing DWI or related criminal charges should consider contacting an Austin DWI lawyer for help. A skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to analyze the facts surrounding your case, determine whether any defenses apply in your case, and optimize your situation to the greatest degree possible.
Defining DWI in Austin
Texas Penal Code §49.04 defines the offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in a public place. Intoxication normally occurs when individuals either have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater, or when alcohol or drug consumption impairs the driver mentally or physically.
Drivers who are under the age of 21 and drive after consuming alcohol or drugs are subject to charges of driving under the influence (DUI) rather than DWI. According to Tex. Alc. Bev. Code §106.041, the distinction between DWI and DUI is that DUI does not require evidence of impairment or a minimum BAC percentage. Rather, DUI applies whenever minor drivers have consumed any amount of alcohol or drugs.
DWI Penalties in Austin
Tex. Pen. Code §49.04 provides that a first DWI conviction is a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in a jail sentence of 180 days upon conviction with a minimum sentence of 72 hours. A DWI conviction also can result in a fine and suspension of driving privileges.
If, however, individuals have an open container of alcohol in the vehicle in the course of committing DWI, the offense is still a Class B misdemeanor, but the minimum jail sentence increases to six days. Furthermore, if testing indicates that a driver’s BAC at the time of their DWI is 0.15 percent or more—which is nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent—then the offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor. An Austin DWI attorney may be able to assist individuals who are facing DWI charges, regardless of the circumstances that led to the offenses.
The Possibility of Probation
In many cases, after serving their minimum jail sentences, individuals may be able to serve their jail sentence on probation, which requires compliance with certain conditions. While the requirements for successfully completing probation may vary, individuals on probation typically must report to probation officers on a regular basis, complete community service, be subject to random alcohol and drug testing, and attend alcohol education classes.
Enhanced DWI Penalties
There are also other cases in which the penalties for a DWI conviction may increase. For instance, if drivers have a child who is under the age of 15 in the vehicle, the offense is a state jail felony, which can carry a prison sentence of up to two years and a $10,000 fine pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code §49.045. As the potential penalties for DWI offenses become progressively more serious, the need for advice from a DWI lawyer in Austin also may increase.
Likewise, if a DWI directly causes serious bodily injury or death to others, the ensuing charge can become intoxication assault or manslaughter, depending on the circumstances. Under Tex. Pen. Code §49.07, intoxication assault is a third-degree felony. and under Tex. Pen. Code §49.08, intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony. Penalties for these offenses upon conviction can include substantial prison terms and thousands of dollars in fines.
Work with an Austin DWI Attorney and Fight Back Against DWI Charges
The state of Texas is tough on intoxicated drivers, and the penalties for DWI offenses reflect its harsh stance. As a result, an Austin DWI lawyer may be essential to your ability to resolve your case as quickly and positively as possible.
If you are in this difficult and stressful situation, you are likely to need the investigative and professional legal skills that seasoned legal counsel could provide. Call today to get started on your case.