Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a harshly prosecuted crime involving an incredibly complex area of criminal law. It can be terrifying to face DWI charges, and a conviction can result in fines, jail time, a criminal record, and the suspension of your driver’s license, which could severely impact your ability to keep your job or go to school. When you are facing DWI charges, you need to work with an experienced Angleton DWI lawyer to develop an effective defense against these charges.
An attorney is your greatest asset when attempting to limit or eliminate the penalties you face for a DWI. If you have multiple DWI charges or if there are aggravating factors present in your arrest, it is even more important that you find an attorney capable of understanding and managing your complex case.
At the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, we can offer you a reliable legal defense with knowledgeable legal guidance. We have 10 years of experience in criminal defense, and we have had experience in many straightforward and complex DWI cases in the communities surrounding Angleton.
We believe that DWI charges should not harm your entire future. Our team can fight to have the charges dismissed or work to mitigate the penalties you experience. You have the right to effective legal representation, and we want to help you build a defense to minimize the effect of a DWI charge.
DWI charges in Angleton, TX are prosecuted aggressively, and penalties are harsh, due to the danger presented by drivers who operate their vehicles while intoxicated. A law enforcement officer must have probable cause to pull you over, such as traffic infractions, moving violations, or visibly impaired driving. An officer may administer a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Under Texas law, driving while intoxicated means either:
This means that you do not need to have a BAC above the legal limit to be arrested and convicted of a DWI. Certain drivers have a lower BAC threshold. Commercially licensed drivers have a BAC legal limit of .04%, and drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with any BAC-level reading.
DWI penalties rely on several factors, including:
A first-offense DWI is charged as a Class B misdemeanor if there are no aggravating factors. The penalties of a conviction include:
A second-offense DWI with no other aggravating factors, or a first-time DWI where you had a BAC of .15% or greater, is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties for these charges include:
A third or additional DWI offense is charged as a third-degree felony. A DWI that causes serious bodily injury is also charged as a felony, even if it is the individual’s first DWI offense. Penalties upon conviction are:
When you cause serious bodily injury while intoxicated, and the person who is injured is an emergency responder, the charge becomes a second-degree felony. If you cause bodily injury to an individual and they suffer from a traumatic brain injury, or if the DWI accident results in a death, it is also a second-degree felony. The penalties include:
When a DWI crash causes injury or death, you are likely to face not only criminal charges but also civil claims from injured individuals or their surviving family members.
Another type of aggravated DWI offense occurs when you are driving under the influence with a child who is 15 years old or younger in the car. This is child endangerment, and it is charged as a state jail felony. In addition to the penalties associated with the DWI, you may face the following penalties:
Judges can assign other penalties, such as:
These additional sentences will depend on the unique circumstances of the case and the judge’s discretion.
When you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer under suspicion of impairment because of erratic driving or traffic violations, it’s important to know your rights. Texas has an implied consent law, which means that by driving in the state or having a Texas license, you are consenting to a chemical test if you are lawfully arrested for a DWI.
Refusing to take a blood, breath, or urine chemical test after your arrest can result in more severe criminal penalties if you are convicted. You can even face criminal penalties if you are not convicted of a DWI. Refusing a chemical test will also result in the immediate suspension of your license, even if you are not intoxicated. It is typically in your interests to comply with a chemical test after your arrest.
However, many drivers misunderstand the implied consent law and believe that they are required to take a preliminary breathalyzer test when they are pulled over. This is not always the case. Drivers who are on DWI probation or who are under the age of 21 are required to submit to breathalyzer tests prior to an arrest. However, other drivers are not.
A: Yes, a DWI could be dismissed, depending on the circumstances of an arrest, the charges, and the skill of a defense attorney. If there is insufficient evidence against the defendant, the case against them may be dropped. If they were pulled over without probable cause, any of the evidence gathered at the stop and the arrest may be inadmissible, enabling the case to be dismissed. Mishandling of evidence may also have the same result.
A: Your first DWI offense, if there are no aggravating factors, can result in a Class B misdemeanor conviction in Texas. The penalties include:
Aggravating factors that will worsen even a first-time penalty include a DWI:
A: When you are charged with a DWI and your BAC is .15% or higher, it is considered an enhanced DWI. Usually, a first-time DWI is charged as a Class B misdemeanor, but an enhanced DWI is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties for this include:
These penalties are similar to being arrested for your second DWI.
A: It’s common to receive a short jail sentence after your first DWI, which is a minimum of 3 days for a first offense and no aggravating factors. However, in some situations, especially when you did not cause an accident and had a low BAC, your attorney may be able to advocate for alternative sentencing. The judge on your case may assign probation instead of jail time, additional educational courses, and/or community service.
Each DWI will have its own unique circumstances, which require a unique approach to defense. At the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, we have vast experience in criminal defense and DWI cases. We apply this knowledge to the individual needs of your case, determining what defenses are applicable. We can negotiate to dismiss the charges you face or lower the severity of your penalties.
Our firm knows that a DWI conviction can impact your immediate future and the rest of your life, and we take those consequences seriously. Contact our team to learn how we can protect your rights against DWI charges.