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Police to ramp up efforts to crack down on DWI offenders this holiday season

Texas DWI attorney

There is no disputing that people tend to drink and drive more often during the holiday season than at any other time of the year. It starts with the night before Thanksgiving, which has been dubbed "Blackout Wednesday" and is now regarded as one of the biggest drinking days of the year. The season runs through New Year's Day.

In response to the uptick in drunk driving during this period, law enforcement will amp up its efforts to keep drunk drivers off the road. Unfortunately, those who haven't had anything to drink, or are driving within the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) range below 0.08 percent, are impacted by police crackdowns.

Texas police to increase patrols during the holiday season

According to one local source, police departments across the State of Texas have received grants from TxDOT to have extra officers on patrol. In addition, many officers will be working overtime to catch drunk drivers. These efforts are a part of a national crackdown on drunk driving, which is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

All it takes is a slight traffic misstep to become a DWI suspect. Luckily, unlike many states across the U.S., Texas police are not allowed to set up sobriety checkpoints. Instead, they'll likely scan the road for certain behaviors that could indicate that a driver is intoxicated. These include:

  • Swerving or crossing painted lines in the road
  • Driving significantly above or below the speed limit
  • Failing to use signals
  • Tailgating other cars
  • Stopping or braking without an apparent cause
  • Taking abrupt turns
  • Failing to turn on headlights

While these driving behaviors may hint that a driver is driving drunk, they only give police a reason to pull drivers over. The observations and tests that come next may give them enough probable cause to make an arrest.

It starts with observations, including:

  • Listening for slurred speech
  • Watching the eyes for quick movement
  • Listening for delays in response
  • Smelling the scent of alcohol

Drunk-driving tests will likely follow

After making observations and asking questions, a field sobriety test and breath test will most likely follow.

Field sobriety tests are administered in three tiers:

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus: The officer will move a small object (such as a pen or small flashlight) back and forth, and observe the driver's eyes.
  • The walk-and-turn test: During this test, the driver must take nine steps in a straight line while touching heel-to-toe.
  • The one-leg stand test: The driver must stand on one leg and hold his or her foot six inches off the ground and count until otherwise instructed by the officer.

Field sobriety tests, however, aren't as accurate as we think. Anyone who has been drinking can pass one of these tests with enough skill to do so. Any sober person who is fatigued, disabled, or lacks the physical coordination to complete the test can fail.

An officer will also likely administer a breath test. The results of a breath test may provide an officer with harder evidence. These results can be disputed, in some cases. Breathalyzers are known for being glitchy at times and yield false readings.

That's why it's best to stay vigilant this holiday season. If you are pulled over for any reason, you should always comply with the police. What you should avoid doing, however, is answering questions or trying to talk your way out of a DWI test or arrest. Speaking, no matter how innocent you may be, can only make matters worse.

If you are arrested this holiday season, let experienced Texas DWI attorney Amanda Webb do the talking for you. She has real courtroom experience helping those arrested for DWI fight the charges. To learn more, contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer.

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.