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Are Field Sobriety Tests Mandatory in Texas?

Texas police officer makes a DWI stop

The short answer: no. These tests are optional in Texas.

It's an iconic part of a DWI traffic stop: the officer instructs the driver to stand on one leg, walk a line, or follow an object with their eyes. Despite their unreliability, these roadside exams are administered every day in Texas.

Field sobriety tests are not a trustworthy way to estimate a driver's level of intoxication. The "results" rely on a police officer's gut instincts to help support drunk driving charges. That means there is a lot of room for even sober people to be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI).

Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer, knows how to demonstrate that field sobriety tests are flimsy excuses for arrests. If you are facing DWI charges in Harris County, Montgomery County, Waller County, The Woodlands, or the greater Houston area, contact our Conroe-based criminal defense law firm. Whether you took a field sobriety test or not, our Texas DWI attorneys can help.

What you need to know about the field sobriety tests

Since field sobriety tests remain a tactic for Texas police departments, it's important to understand them. Here's what you need to know.

  • In Texas, taking a field sobriety test is voluntary. No matter what an officer tells you, in Texas, participating in a field sobriety test is optional. If you are pulled over by an officer for DWI or any other reason, you do not have to take the field sobriety test. Unlike chemical tests, there is no license suspension or other consequence for refusing a field sobriety test.
  • There are several types of tests. The standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) have specific challenges and guidelines for administration, while the non-standardized ones do not. The SFST tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand, and the walk-and-turn.
  • Other factors can affect these tests. People who are tired, have physical disabilities or mental health disorders, have height and weight differences, or are in a heightened emotional state may "fail" the field sobriety tests even though they are not intoxicated. The anxiety of the traffic stop itself is also a factor in the field sobriety tests.
  • It's just an opinion. Field sobriety test results come down to the opinion of a single officer. Their interpretation of your reactions and behavior is not a fact.
  • A "failed" field sobriety test does not mean you will be found guilty.

Can I be arrested for not taking a Texas field sobriety test?

Again, field sobriety tests are optional in Texas. You can politely decline to participate. Refusing the test also doesn't give the officer probable cause to arrest you. That said, you can still be arrested if the officer has some other evidence that establishes probable cause to suspect DWI, such as smelling alcohol on your breath — but that would be the case regardless of the field sobriety test.

There are only a few things you have to do at a traffic stop: show the officer your license and registration, give your name and address, and exit the vehicle if you are instructed to do so. That's it.

Relentless DWI criminal defense in Texas

Again, just because you "failed" a field sobriety test doesn't mean you will be convicted of DWI. The Texas DWI attorneys at our law firm know how to attack field sobriety test results through in-depth investigations, aggressive negotiation, and sharp litigation.

If you have been charged with a DWI in Conroe or the surrounding area, you need to protect your freedom. Our law firm focuses on DWI cases. We offer free case consultations to people facing intoxicated driving charges.

A member of our team is available to hear from you anytime, day or night. Contact Amanda Webb - DWI Attorney, to schedule your free case consultation today.

What Is Considered a High BAC for a Texas DWI?

a Texas police officer has suspicions that a man is driving under the influence of alcohol. In Texas, a high BAC can result in harsh penalties.

Texas has enhanced penalties for DWI with high BAC.

Being convicted of a DWI in Texas is bad, but being convicted of a DWI with a BAC over 0.15% is much worse. That's because Texas has "enhanced penalties" for driving with an allegedly high BAC.

What is considered a high BAC here (0.15%) is almost twice the standard legal limit for driving - 0.08% BAC. Therefore, the penalties are more severe for high BAC DWI (driving while intoxicated, aka driving under the influence or DUI). A typical 1st time DWI is a Class B misdemeanor. However, the charges are upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor if the driver allegedly had a BAC of 0.15% or higher.

Your freedom is on the line when you have been charged with a DWI in Texas. Not only will you have to complete a harsh sentence if you are convicted, but your criminal record will likely hamper future opportunities. DWI convictions pop up in background checks and can ruin your chances of obtaining some professional licenses, jobs, housing, education, and loans.

Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer, stands up for people charged with DWI in Montgomery County and nearby communities. With a practice dedicated to fighting all types of Texas DWI charges, Attorney Webb knows how to tear down seemingly strong cases for prosecution. If you have been charged with a high BAC DWI or another type of DWI, contact us today for a free case evaluation to learn about your criminal defense options.

Texas penalties for high BAC DWI

Penalties for driving with an alleged BAC of 0.15% or greater are increased. If convicted of high BAC DWI in Texas, your penalties may include the following:

  • Up to a $4,000 fine.
  • At least 3 days in jail with the potential for up to 12 months in jail.
  • Up to 2 years of driver's license suspension.
  • A State Traffic Fine of $6,000 on top of other fines and court costs.
  • Up to 200 hours of community service.
  • Attend a DWI Education class along with a VIP class (Victim Impact Panel).
  • Installation of a deep-lung device or ignition interlock device on your vehicle(s), the cost of which is paid for by you.

Charges are not convictions.

A high BAC DWI charge may feel like the end, but our law firm can fight for your freedom. Being charged does not mean that you are guilty. So, don't give up hope. Remember:

  • Police make mistakes.
  • Breathalyzer tests are often faulty.
  • We can help you get a hearing and apply for a hardship driver's license.
  • Illegally obtained "evidence" gets thrown out.
  • Cases can be dismissed.
  • Charges can be reduced or dropped.

One of the biggest mistakes made by people charged with DWI in Texas is pleading guilty immediately, hoping for leniency. Another big mistake is thinking they can handle this challenging situation alone. When your freedom and future are on the line, experience matters.

Attorney Amanda Webb is a former Montgomery County assistant district attorney. She uses her inside knowledge of how the local criminal justice system works to help people accused of crimes get the best possible outcome in their case.

If you have been charged with DWI in Montgomery County or the surrounding area, find out how an experienced DWI defense attorney can help you. A member of our team is available to hear from you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Can You Get Deferred Adjudication for DWI in Texas?

Texas DWI attorney

What is deferred adjudication?

It is always a good idea to fight DWI charges. However, when a DWI conviction is all but unavoidable, the right outcome for the defendant may be a deferred adjudication. With this type of resolution, you can avoid having a DWI show up on most public background checks and escape collateral penalties like difficulty getting work, housing, and loans, for example.

For those who qualify, a deferred adjudication may be granted in exchange for a guilty or no contest plea to a DWI (driving while intoxicated) charge. In this case, a judge will, more or less, not accept your plea. They will defer further proceedings on your case without entering an adjudication of guilt. You will then, most likely, be required to fulfill a period of community supervision similar to probation.

Conditions of a deferred adjudication typically require you to successfully complete the orders of your supervision and pay all court costs. Upon successful completion of deferred adjudication, you can seal your record from the public with a petition for non-disclosure (PND). The record will still exist and can still be accessed by law enforcement and state agencies for the purpose of enhancing future DWI arrests, but it's not otherwise accessible to the public.

Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer has more than a decade of experience defending those charged with driving while intoxicated in Montgomery County and the surrounding area - Harris County, The Woodlands, Waller County, Houston, etc. She knows what it takes to successfully petition for DWI deferred adjudications. If you have been charged, or suspect a DWI or DUI is forthcoming, contact us for a free case consultation.

Do you qualify for a DWI deferred adjudication?

Not all cases qualify for deferred adjudication. So, those requesting one must request a court date. Among those facing intoxication charges, people facing their first DWI are the most likely to be eligible.

However, you may be disqualified if your charge is for a violent crime like intoxicated assault. You may also be disqualified if you were granted a deferred sentence within the last 5 years, or you have been convicted of sexual assault, human trafficking in a child safety zone, or indecency with a child, among other violent crimes.

Deferred adjudication for first-time DWI is a fairly new opportunity in Texas. A 2019 law expanded eligibility. As courts adjust to the new terms, it's important to have an experienced DWI defense lawyer on your side who understands how past laws influence current ones. They can determine whether a deferred adjudication is a good option for you, petition the court on your behalf, and fight for your fair treatment by the justice system.

DWI deferred adjudication conditions

In Montgomery County, once you have made your plea and paid your court costs, your adjudication will typically be deferred for 90 days. During that time, you cannot be convicted for any other violations. If you are under age 25, you must also complete an approved driving safety course and return proof of completion to the court.

Usually, conditions of a DWI deferred adjudication include:

  • Random drug screenings.
  • Alcohol and substance abuse recovery classes.
  • Having an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle.
  • Community service.

What happens after deferred adjudication supervision?

A judge will determine whether you satisfactorily met the terms of your deferred adjudication conditions. If they agree you have completed the conditions, the judge will dismiss the case without a conviction. You can then petition for an order of nondisclosure (OND) to have the original proceedings of your DWI sealed. If you get this OND, details of your DWI arrest and court hearings will be removed from public view. The incident would still be available to law enforcement and state agencies and may be used to enhance future DWI arrests.

However, if the judge says that you failed to fulfill the orders, you could be found guilty and a conviction would be reported to the Texas Department of Public Safety. You would likely have to wait longer to apply for expungement — if you qualify at all — and suffer the collateral penalties associated with a DWI conviction, such as professional license and work restrictions, difficulty gaining housing and loans, etc.

Get a DWI lawyer who fights to win

A DWI on your record comes with many consequences in addition to the initial penalties. When your freedom and future are on the line, the knowledge and skill of an experienced DWI lawyer are critical to your success.

Attorney Amanda Webb is a former Montgomery County assistant district attorney with more than 10 years of trial experience and a passion for helping those in need. She has an insider's understanding of how the local courts work and what it takes to win here. If you are facing a DWI charge, schedule a free case consultation to learn about your options, if you are eligible for deferred adjudication, and how our law firm can help you.

A member of our team is available to hear from you right now. Contact us today.

What Happens When a Minor Is Charged With DWI in Texas?

police officer giving field sobriety test to a teenager

The penalties depend on many factors, including the specific charge.

A person in Texas is eligible for a provisional driver’s license at 16 but must be at least 21 to buy or publicly drink alcohol. So what happens if a minor (defined as under 21) is caught driving under the influence?

The short answer is that the minor can be charged with a DWI offense and may face fines, a license suspension, community service – and possibly even jail time.

In Texas, it is against the law for adult drivers 21 and over to drive with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08%. But the rules are much stricter for younger drivers. The state has a zero-tolerance law for any drinking by a minor driver. They can be charged with Driving Under the Influence by a Minor (DUI by a Minor).

What are the penalties for minors?

If the police pull over a minor and suspect alcohol use, the driver may be asked to take a field sobriety test and breath or blood test. A BAC of even 0.02% can result in arrest, and the vehicle may be towed.

DUI by a Minor under 17

This is considered a Class C misdemeanor. For a first offense, the driver may be fined up to $500, sentenced to 20 to 40 hours of community service, receive a license suspension of 60 to 180 days, and may also be required to take an alcohol awareness course. A parent may also be required to take the course.

For a second offense, the driver may be fined up to $500, sentenced to as many as 60 hours of community service, receive a license suspension of 120 days to 2 years, and may also be required to take an alcohol awareness course.

DWI by a Minor 17 to 20

This is considered a Class B misdemeanor. For a first offense, the driver may be fined up to $2,000, sentenced to 72 hours to 180 days in jail, and receive a license suspension of 1 year. In addition, if eligible, the driver may be given the option of a 90-day license suspension if an ignition interlock device (IID) is installed in their vehicle.

A second offense is considered a Class A misdemeanor. The driver may be fined up to $4,000, sentenced to 30 days to one year in jail, and receive a license suspension of 180 days to 18 months.

A third offense is considered a felony DWI. The driver may be fined up to $10,000, sentenced to a prison term of 2 to 10 years, and receive a license suspension of 180 days to 2 years.

Contact a Texas DWI defense attorney.

A DUI conviction can significantly impact a young person’s life and future. If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving in Texas and are facing charges, don’t take chances. Instead, call an experienced DWI defense lawyer to fight for you. Call Amanda Webb – DWI Lawyer.

A former prosecutor, attorney Webb is familiar with the state’s drunk driving laws and how the state builds cases. She knows how to build a strong defense and fights to get charges reduced or dropped. If you’ve been arrested, you need legal advice as soon as possible. There’s too much at stake. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation or call 1-800-395-5951. We're available 24/7.

What Is the Penalty for Intoxication Assault in Texas?

Man driving car is pulled over by police. Flashing lights at night

Texas has many DUI-related charges with stiff penalties, and one such charge is intoxicated assault. The following information is general and explains what an intoxicated assault charge means in Texas. If you are facing an intoxicated assault or another criminal charge, contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer for a free case evaluation. Our criminal defense law firm is based in Conroe, Texas, and we serve the surrounding Montgomery County area.

Intoxicated assault

One of the more common DUI/DWI-related charges under Texas law is intoxication assault.

Intoxication assault is typically applied when a person is accused of operating a motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated and, due to this impairment, their actions cause "serious bodily injury" (SBI) to another person.

Serious bodily injury is defined by Texas as an injury that creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

Intoxicated assault is a felony

Typically, intoxication assault is a third-degree felony charge, but there are exceptions.

  • The penalty for third-degree felony intoxicated assault is up to 10 years in prison with a 2-year minimum sentence.
  • The charge can be upgraded to a second-degree felony if the injured person was a firefighter or emergency medical personnel performing their duties or if the alleged victim suffers a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state. The penalty for second-degree intoxicated assault is up to 20 years in prison with a 2-year minimum sentence.
  • First-degree felony intoxicated assault applies if the alleged victim was a police officer or judge performing their duties. The penalty for a first-degree felony is up to 99 years in prison with a 5-year minimum sentence.

Options

Every case is different, but in general, those facing an intoxicated assault charge have options. Potential responses to the charge may include:

  • Pleading innocent and fighting for a not-guilty verdict or acquittal.
  • Pleading guilty.
  • Negotiating to plead guilty to a lesser charge.
  • If a guilty verdict is reached, depending on your circumstances, your lawyer may argue for a lighter sentence or an alternative to the incarceration program.

Talk to a Texas DWI attorney today

Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer has a reputation for tearing down seemingly "solid" cases for prosecution. Attorney Webb knows the strategies the Montgomery District Attorney uses on intoxicated assault cases because she is a former assistant district attorney for the county office.

Discover what our law firm can do for you. If you have been charged with intoxicated assault or another DUI-type charge, contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options. There are no obligations, and our conversation is confidential. For more information, call 1-800-395-5951. We're available 24/7 and would be happy to answer your questions.