DWI – Driving While Intoxicated – Charges
Have you, a friend, or a loved one been charged with DWI in Houston, TX? You should contact a DWI lawyer in Houston, TX to help you fight the case.
It’s not illegal to drink and drive.
It is not per se illegal to drink and drive, but it is a crime drive while intoxicated. So what is the legal standard for intoxication? There are three ways the government can try to prove intoxication:
Loss of a person’s normal use of mental faculties.
Loss of a person’s normal use of physical faculties.
A blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher
When the police stop someone for suspicion of DWI, there is a certain “routine” that they follow to collect evidence and make a determination of whether someone will be arrested for DWI.
Loss of the normal use of mental and physical faculties
With regards to the first two ways that the government can try to prove intoxication, officer’s are using subjective measures to make a determination of whether a person is intoxicated. The DWI investigation starts from the moment the officer sees a person’s vehicle. The officer is observing a person’s driving behavior, they are observing the person’s stopping sequence once they decide to pull the vehicle over. The officer is also observing the driver’s body language when they approach the car, whether they smell drugs or alcohol, whether the driver slurs their speech, whether the driver can balance when they exit the vehicle, and the list goes on.
If an officer stops a person for suspicion of DWI, they will ask them to conduct three tests known as Standards Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s). These tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN Test), the Walk-and-Turn (WAT test), and the One Legged Stand (OLS test). These tests are promulgated by the National Highway and Safety Administration and officers receive training at some point in their career on the administration of these tests. During these tests the officer gives the driver instructions on how to perform the tests and is looking for “clues” to ultimately make a determination of whether probable cause exists to make an arrest for DWI.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) over .08%
With regards to proving intoxication by BAC, officers who suspect a driver to be intoxicated can request the driver to give a breath specimen or a blood specimen. The breath specimen requires the driver to blow into a machine that gives a reading of the driver’s BAC. The blood specimen, taken by consent or by warrant, is sent to a laboratory for testing. These results will confirm or disprove the officer’s suspicion of intoxication. However, there are many opportunities to challenge the results of the samples. BAC results are often wrong due to either human error in not following protocol in obtaining the sample or in equipment error such as an uncalibrated machine. This is why it is important to contact a lawyer immediately after you have been arrested for DWI.
The punishment range varies significantly depending on whether the driver has had previous DWI arrests or convictions and even the driver’s BAC. Additionally, the driver’s driving privileges may be suspended upon arrest and upon conviction for DWI, so it is important to contact a lawyer that can assist with maintaining driving privileges while the case is pending.
If you or your loved one in Houston has been charged with DWI, you should contact an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer before making any statements to police, investigators, or anyone about the facts of the case. These statements will likely be recorded and used by the government in prosecuting the case.
For more information about a specific case, you should contact a criminal lawyer in Houston that handles DWI cases to see what legal and factual defenses are available to you.
NOTE: This information is not intended to be legal advice and is merely used for general educational purposes. For legal advice about a specific case call Houston criminal defense attorney Brandon R. Cammack at 713-300-9291 or schedule a free consultation online.