There are various unique aspects of Fort Worth DWI cases that separate them from other types of criminal proceedings. Individuals facing DWI charges should be aware of these nuances. Understanding DWI law in Fort Worth may enable you to defend yourself better if you are accused of driving while intoxicated.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can be crucial to a positive outcome in a DWI case. The nature of the evidence that law enforcement uses to support DWI charges is often subjective and differs from that used in other criminal investigations. As a result, getting legal advice in this situation may be highly beneficial.
The Subjective Nature of DWI Charges in Fort Worth
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.04, driving while intoxicated or DWI in a public place occurs under two distinct circumstances:
- Individuals have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater
- Individuals are impaired mentally or physically by alcohol or drugs
While authorities can measure the BAC of a driver, the other potential grounds for DWI charges is more subjective. Measuring mental or physical impairment can be challenging, particularly because other factors may impact a driver’s behavior. For instance, poor performance during field sobriety tests is not always indicative of impairment. Instead, an inability to perform one or more tests may be due to any of the following:
- Side effects of prescription or over-the-counter medications
- Extreme fatigue
- Medical conditions that impact physical balance, such as knee or back injuries
Therefore, if the DWI charges are based on a police officer’s suspicion that an individual was impaired by alcohol or drugs, there could be various options for challenging these conclusions. Different people have different perspectives and opinions about human behavior, and what one police officer considers evidence of impairment may not lead another to the same conclusion.
Reliability of DWI Testing
Another hallmark of DWI cases is the questionable reliability of the tests that police use to support the charges. First, as noted above, various factors can affect performance on field sobriety tests, which casts doubt on their results. Likewise, if police officers are improperly or inadequately trained to administer these tests, the results may vary.
Portable breath tests (PBTs) also have reliability problems. If officers fail to maintain and recalibrate the PBTs properly, they may issue false readings. Similarly, if law enforcement authorities lack training for properly administering a PBT, their results may be suspect. Some critics of PBTs also have cited false results due to individuals using mouthwash or chewing gum, as well as prior consumption of food or liquids.
Additionally, blood tests to measure BAC also may produce unsatisfactory results for various reasons. For instance, the blood test process must follow specific procedures. If phlebotomists fail to follow these guidelines, the results of the test may be invalid. The technicians testing the blood must also follow particular guidelines and maintain machines to protect the integrity of the blood sample and test results. Individuals should be aware of Fort Worth DWI cases and their unique considerations, as these factors can impact the outcome of a case.
Ask an Attorney About Important Factors in Fort Worth DWI Cases
A first-offense DWI is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a jail sentence ranging from 72 hours to 180 days, a maximum $2,000 fine, a license suspension, and a term of probation. The potential penalties can increase for subsequent DWI convictions. However, several unique aspects of Fort Worth DWI cases can make these charges highly defensible in many situations.
If you have been arrested and charged with DWI, you should discuss your defense strategy with an experienced attorney. Call today for a consultation.