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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
People who are facing allegations of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Richardson may be scared or confused. They may not understand how they could be charged with DWI despite not having a drink or why a simple mistake will result in the creation of a criminal record.
The simple fact of the matter is that DWI is a criminal offense. Making matters worse, the Texas Penal Code states that a conviction carries a mandatory jail sentence and a loss of license. Therefore, it may be important to seek the advice of a Richardson DWI lawyer. With years of experience, a practiced defense attorney can work to help you create a strategy to minimize the impact of these charges as much as possible.
The Definition of DWI in Texas
Texas defines DWI in Texas Penal Code §49.04. This statute says that it is illegal for any person to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. This is a more complex concept that it at first appears.
A person may only commit DWI in a public place. This means streets, roads, parking lots, or any other place held open for public use. An individual cannot commit DWI on their own private land.
It is also vital to understand the definition of “intoxicated”. The same statute defines this concept as:
- Being physically or mentally impaired by a drug or alcohol
- Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more
Therefore, a person may be intoxicated if their blood/alcohol test indicates a level of .08 percent or more, or alternatively, if an arresting officer makes the judgment call that any foreign substance has compromised a person’s ability to drive. This can include street drugs or prescription medications. A Richardson DWI lawyer could explain what it means to commit DWI under Texas law.
How a DWI Conviction May Affect the Future
Texas Penal Code § 49.04(b) states that a core level, first-offense DWI is a class B misdemeanor. This means that a conviction will create a criminal record. In addition, the statute says that a judge may sentence the driver to at least 72 hours in jail. Additionally, they may lose their license for at least 90 days.
These mandatory minimums apply only to first-time offenders where there are no aggravating factors in the case. For instance, if a court convicts a defendant of DWI while having an open container in the vehicle, the mandatory minimum jail sentence increases to six days. Defendants could also face enhanced penalties if they refuse to submit to a breath or blood test, if they were impaired with a child in the car, or if the incident caused injury or death to another person.
A Richardson DWI Lawyer Could Help
Allegations of DWI can throw a person’s life into chaos. Simply facing an arrest for these charges can take away your ability to drive and will create great levels of stress. This is nothing to say about the potential criminal penalties that may result from a conviction.
A Richardson DWI lawyer could help fight to prevent this from happening. They can help from the moment that you face arrest to protect your rights, contest the legality of any police work, and formulate a defense designed to defend your freedom in court. Contact a lawyer today to learn more.