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Can a DWI constitute a felony charge? A Texas attorney says yes - Here's why.

Texas DWI attorneyIn most cases, DWIs are charged as misdemeanors in Texas. A first offense, for example, could result in up to 180 days in jail, driver's license suspension for up to a year, and a fine of up to $2,000, if convicted. The penalties for subsequent DWI charges can increase in severity.

In some cases, however, a DWI can be more severe and result in a felony charge. Factors in felony DWI charges usually include:

  • You're charged with a third DWI: If you were charged with a DWI for the third time in Texas, you could be convicted of a third-degree felony. Penalties include imprisonment of 2-10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • If someone was hurt in a car accident: Intoxication assault occurs when another person is seriously injured in a DWI-related car accident. This constitutes a third-degree felony.
  • If someone was killed in a car accident: Intoxication manslaughter occurs when another person is killed in a DWI-related car accident. This constitutes a second-degree felony, which carries imprisonment of 2-20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • You're charged with DWI while you have a child under age 15 in your vehicle: This constitutes a state jail felony, which carries 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Flaws in felony DWI charges

Any type of DWI charge can have serious legal consequences but if you have been arrested and charged with a felony DWI, it's critical that you consult with an experienced Texas DWI lawyer as soon as possible. With a felony charge on your record, you may lose your right to serve on a jury, own a gun and hold public office. In addition, finding a job may be difficult.

The bottom line in felony DWI charges (and all DWI charges for that matter) is: the prosecutor doesn't care whether or not you are actually innocent. If there is enough evidence available to convict you, fighting the charges may be difficult.

Not all DWI charges are as clear cut as you think, however. When devising a legal defense, your attorney will look for evidence of:

  • Inaccurate breath tests or defective breathalyzer devices
  • Inaccurate field sobriety test results
  • Lack of probable cause
  • Inaccurate BAC reading
  • If the arresting officer failed to read your Miranda rights

In the event you are stopped by police or suspected of a crime, it's important to remain silent and let an attorney at Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer do the talking. With such a serious charge, too much is at stake. Contact us online to find out how we can help you.

What does the new DWI law in Texas mean for first-time offenders?

Texas DWI attorneyA DWI arrest can happen to anyone who had a few drinks and then got behind the wheel. You might realize you made a mistake as soon as you notice the blue lights in the rear-view mirror, but should you live with the consequences of one error in judgment for the rest of your life?

Before a new law was adopted in Texas, first-time offenders convicted of drunk driving were unable to have their charges deferred through probation, according to KLTV. There were lifetime consequences and a first DWI offense also meant you faced the following penalties:

  • Probation
  • Up to three months in jail
  • $2,000 fine
  • A license suspension of 90 days to one year
  • License reinstatement fee of $3,000

Under the new law, a first-time offense of DWI means you are eligible to be offered deferred adjudication probation (as long as your blood-alcohol level was below .15 percent). This means after you complete the terms of probation you may avoid a formal conviction or have the case dismissed.

What is an ignition interlock device?

The law requires offenders to follow strict rules that include an ignition interlock device being installed in their car if the sentence is deferred. This is a device that prevents the car from being started if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.

In addition, a first-time DWI offender who has been given deferred probation will face serious penalties if they are charged and convicted of a second offense. In addition to fines and the possibility of a jail sentence, a second offense of DWI is considered a class A misdemeanor.

A first-time offender who completes probation without a repeated offense will have the conviction erased. That’s a big relief for anyone who knows they made a poor decision and simply wants to get on with their life.

How can a DWI lawyer help if you've been arrested?

If you are arrested as a first-time DWI offender, you will want to seek the best possible resolution to your case. It’s important to contact an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you devise an effective legal strategy.

A first-time DWI arrest should not haunt you for the rest of your life. Fortunately, the new DWI law is on your side – and so is attorney Amanda Webb. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.

How Complying With Police Can Help You Fight a DWI Charge

Texas DWI attorneyIf you've only had a couple of drinks during a night out, your blood alcohol content level may be within the legal limit of 0.08. Maybe you had nothing to drink at all before getting behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, when the police are out in full force looking for drunk drivers, that won't prevent them from pulling you over.

If you're driving late at night or on a holiday weekend, you may encounter a DWI checkpoint. Police may stop you if you exhibit any signs of impairment, however, at any time.

It could be a failure to stay in your lane or come to a complete stop at a stop sign. In other cases, police may stop you for a broken taillight and use that as a pretense to attempt to nab you for DWI.

It's important not to take any of this personally and understand that police are not responsible for convicting DWI suspects. They only employ tactics to gather evidence that can be used against you in court.

That's why there is no harm in cooperating with law enforcement when you are stopped. In fact, cooperating can help prevent an unfortunate situation from escalating into something more severe.

What will happen when stopped and suspected of DWI

Once you are stopped, rolling your window down and keeping your hands on the steering wheel may place an officer at ease. If an officer asks for your license and registration, you must provide it. Anything beyond that, it's crucial that you consider how your actions may impact the outcome of the situation.

It's standard for police to ask questions when pulling someone over. They may ask where you are going, coming from, or how much you've had to drink, if they are suspicious of drunk driving. Be aware, however, that anything you tell an officer can lead to further questioning. If you're arrested, your word can be used against you in court.

If an officer suspects that you are drunk, you may be asked to perform a field sobriety test or take a breath test. A field sobriety test isn't always the most effective method for determining impairment. Your performance could be impacted by fatigue, anxiety, a mental or cognitive disorder, a physical disability, or your height and weight.

A breath test, on the other hand, may provide police with more solid evidence that you were driving drunk. You may refuse to take a breath test, but due to Texas's implied consent law, you can be arrested and have your license suspended for 180 days (more if it's your second offense). Even if you take the breath test and fail, the evidence may still be disputed. Breath test results aren't always 100 percent accurate, as the devices used by police are sometimes defective.

Why compliance may save you in the courtroom

Even if you're well-aware that you didn't break any laws, it's still important to stay calm and cooperate with police. In many cases, people who are stopped will argue with police or resist arrest. This can lead to charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest — both of which can be difficult to fight in court.

If you are being placed under arrest, it's best to remain silent and take your fight to the courtroom. Having an experienced DWI lawyer on your side can save you a heap of legal troubles during the process.

Attorney Amanda Webb proudly represents those charged with DWI throughout the State of Texas and can devise an effective legal strategy. Don't take a chance with your freedom. Contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer today and schedule your free case evaluation.

A Texas DWI Lawyer Reveals How Police ID Impaired Drivers

Texas DWI attorneyWhich tactics do law enforcement officers use to identify drivers they believe are impaired? According to an article in verywellmind.com, this rise in prescription drug use has prompted police to begin using Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) to determine if a driver is impaired.

This is done in accordance with the International Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program – which is coordinated by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

How the process works

The DRE protocol is a 12-part process used to determine whether a suspect is impaired by drugs and identify which drugs may be involved. The steps include:

  • Administering a breath alcohol test upon stopping a driver for suspicion of DWI: In some cases, a suspect’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) may be under the legal limit of 0.08. If an officer still suspects that a person is impaired, a DRE may be called upon.
  • Interviewing the suspect: After reviewing the breath test results, a DRE may ask questions and observe a suspect’s behavior and overall demeanor.
  • Conducting a preliminary examination and first pulse: A DRE officer may conduct a preliminary examination to determine if a suspect’s behavior is caused by health condition or injury. The DRE may question a suspect about his or her health and use of prescription medication. The DRE may also observe a suspect’s pupils and eye movement, as well as check the pulse rate three times.
  • Conducting an eye examination: A DRE may administer an eye examination for horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), vertical gaze Nystagmus (VGN), and lack of eye convergence. An eye examination may determine which classification of drugs a suspect may be impaired by.
  • Administering a field sobriety test: During a field sobriety test, a DRE may ask a suspect to perform a walk and turn, one-leg stand, finger-to-nose, and a Roberg Balance (which requires suspects to stand with their feet placed together, extend their hands in front of them, and close their eyes).
  • Conduct a dark room examination: If a suspect is arrested and booked, a DRE may determine if his or her pupils are dilated, constricted, or normal by using a pupilometer. During this examination, a DRE may also identify other signs of drug use by checking the nasal and oral cavities.
  • Checking muscle tone: Since some drugs can cause muscles to tense or relax, a DRE may check a suspect’s skeletal muscle tone to help determine impairment.
  • Checking for injection sites: A DRE may further check a suspect’s arms or other common injection sites for signs of drug use.
  • Questioning a suspect after arrest: After a DRE has read a suspect’s Miranda rights, further questioning regarding drug use may be conducted.
  • Forming an opinion based on analysis: A DRE may form an opinion regarding whether or not a suspect is impaired by identifying which classification of drugs are involved based on the DRE Drug Symptomatology Matrix.
  • Administering a toxicological examination: Lastly, a DRE may call for a suspect to take a urine, blood, and/or saliva test. The results of a toxicology test may provide evidence of impairment.

Understanding your rights

If you were stopped by police and arrested on suspicion of DWI, it’s critical that you always put your rights first. Errors in the DRE protocol are possible and can lead to a wrongful DWI conviction if evidence is brought before a jury. Furthermore, the behavior you exhibit and the statements you make during an interview can be used as incriminating evidence.

That’s why it’s important to remain calm and comply with police, but you aren't required to answer any questions or give statements. It’s best to remain silent and consult with an experienced Texas DWI defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer today.

Is Driving While High Considered DWI in Texas?

Texas DWI attorneyAccording to High Times, being convicted for driving under the influence of marijuana is the same as being found guilty of drunken driving. That’s because cannabis, like alcohol, can impair driver reaction time, perception and spatial awareness. As a result, high drivers pose a danger to themselves and others on the road.

If you are stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence in Texas:

  • You are subject to testing.
  • Refusing to provide consent for blood specimens can be used as evidence against you.
  • You do not have the right to consult an attorney about whether to submit to the test.
  • Based on the test results, it’s up to a prosecutor to decide whether you will be charged.
  • In other words, you’re facing an uphill legal battle from the very moment you are stopped by police.

Penalties: Your Future Could Go Up in Smoke

In Texas, according to Leafly, the world’s largest cannabis-focused website, the penalties for driving while high include:

  • First offense (Class B misdemeanor): From 72 hours to 180 days in jail, $2,000 - $4,000 fine, or both; license revocation of up to one year; surcharge of $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years.
  • Second offense (Class A misdemeanor): From 30 days to one year in jail, $4,000 fine, or both; license revocation for 180 days up to two years; surcharge of $1,500 to $2,000 per year for three years.
  • Third offense (third-degree felony): From two years to 10 years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine; community service for 160 to 600 hours; license suspension for 180 days to one year, surcharge of $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years.

In addition, you may face substantially higher insurance rates, lose the ability to rent a car, and could lose your job (particularly if it requires driving).

Protect Your Rights

Just like someone who is accused of drunken driving, if you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, you face an uncertain future. Texas is known for its tough stance against motorists who drive under the influence. Please note that proving that a driver was high at the time of being pulled over may be difficult, as specimens of cannabis can remain in a person’s system for weeks after use.

That’s why, in the Houston area, your first call after being arrested should be Texas DWI lawyer Amanda Webb. The Webb Firm, P.C. serves the Houston and The Woodlands areas, Conroe, and Montgomery and Waller Counties. In practice since 1990, her extensive experience gives her insights into the common mistakes made by police, how the local courts work, how to investigate the particulars of your case and how to aggressively present the best defense to protect your rights and your future.

At the same time, you will be treated with respect and compassion. Contact us today for a free case consultation.