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Strategies for Defending Against DWI Charges in Texas

You may be charged with DWI if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. “Intoxicated” is defined as not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of ingesting alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug or any other substance. However, it is also defined as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Most DWI charges are based on BAC measurements measured by a breath test machine or by laboratory analysis of a blood drawn from a suspect.

A first time DWI offense is classified as a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours and a maximum of 6 months in jail. For a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher, the charge is upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor, which carries greater jail time—up to one year in jail. There are also substantial fines and court costs. In addition, any DWI charge can result in a separate civil action to suspend your driver’s license.

Due to the gravity of the potential penalties for DWI, it is advisable to retain an attorney who can present the strongest defense possible. Here are some possible strategies:

  • Challenging the stop or investigation — The police must have had probable cause to pull you over. This means there must have been an observable indication of a possible traffic violation. After the stop, the officer must have followed proper procedures in interrogating you and/or in looking inside your vehicle. This includes reading Miranda warnings, which include your right to remain silent. If any of these strictures were violated, then evidence or confessions obtained as a result may be inadmissible in court.
  • Challenging field sobriety tests — These tests are not perfect and can be rendered unreliable due to multiple factors. For example, you may have been suffering from a mental or physical condition, or the weather may have affected your ability to perform. In addition, the test may have been improperly administered, or the officer may have misinterpreted the results.
  • Challenging breathalyzer and blood tests — The accuracy of breathalyzer tests can be questioned due to calibration issues, administrative errors or interference from substances other than alcohol, including alcohol or medications. The administrator of the test must also have been properly certified. Blood tests must follow strict protocols governing how and when the blood was drawn and how the samples are handled.
  • Citing alternative explanations — Certain medical conditions can mimic symptoms of intoxication. Some medications can interact with alcohol or produce impairment-like symptoms. Your attorney can explore whether your medical condition or use of prescription drugs could explain your behavior during the DWI stop.

Depending on the strength of the evidence and your specific circumstances, a qualified Texas DWI defense attorney may seek a dismissal of the charges or negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. This could involve pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for reduced penalties.

At the office of Tylden Shaeffer, Attorney at Law, P.C. in San Antonio, I provide skilled representation to people charged with DWI offenses throughout southern Texas. To schedule a free consultation, call {(210) 227-1500 or contact me online.

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Case Results
Intoxication Manslaughter – Reduced Sentence

While client was already on probation for DWI when arrested for Intoxication Manslaughter. Client pleaded guilty to the jury and jury awarded probation where State sought prison term from the jury.

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