DWI

Drunk Driving and Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on November 25, 2018

Under Tex. Pen. Code § 49.04(b)–(d), a DWI occurs when an individual operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. A first DWI conviction typically is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours and a maximum term of confinement of 180 days. A first-time DWI conviction also may result in a fine of up to $2,000, license suspension, and an annual fee or surcharge of $1,000 for three years in order to keep a valid driver’s license.

However, certain aggravating circumstances may increase the potential charges and penalties for DWI. For instance, if a blood, breath, or urine test shows the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be 0.15 percent or more, the offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor, and the annual surcharges will increase to $2,000 for three years. Likewise, if the individual has a passenger who is a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle while driving intoxicated, the offense becomes a state jail felony, which can result in a prison sentence of up to two years, a license suspension of 180 days, and as much as a $10,000 fine. Various other circumstances may result in greater penalties for a DWI conviction, as well.

Drunk Driving and Texas Law

The number of prior DWI convictions also impacts the penalties for subsequent DWI charges. A second-time DWI offense typically is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, and the minimum sentence of incarceration is 30 days, ranging up to one year. A second-time DWI conviction also may result in a fine of up to $4,000, license suspension, and annual surcharges of $1,500 for three years. 

More serious criminal charges and penalties may result in if the DWI offense results in injury or death to another person. Elevated charges and additional penalties also apply when the offense causes serious bodily injury or death to certain individuals, such as emergency medical services personnel, firefighters, peace officers, and judges.

An experienced Texas drunk driving defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the beginning of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case may be too far gone to fix. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

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What Happens if I Get a DWI with a Child in the Car?

By Peek & Toland on November 17, 2018

While typical DWI charges are misdemeanor offenses, if you are accused of DWI while you have a child in your vehicle, your DWI charge will automatically become a state jail felony under Texas law. According to Tex. Pen. Code § 49.045, you commit DWI with a child passenger if you are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place that contains a child under the age of 15. This is the case even if no one is injured by the incident, including your child.

What Happens if I Get a DWI with a Child in the Car?

Potential penalties for a state jail felony may include:

·         A sentence of incarceration ranging from 180 days to two years

·         Payment of fine of up to $10,000

·         DWI education classes

·         Loss of your driver’s license of up to 180 days

·         Installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle

·         Up to 1,000 hours of community service

·         Annual surcharge fees to keep your driver’s license for three years

Additionally, the charge can become a third degree felony in certain circumstances, such as when you have certain previous felony convictions. A third degree felony conviction can result in more severe penalties, including increased prison sentences.

Other collateral consequences for a DWI with a child passenger conviction can include loss of custody of your child, restricted or suspended visitation with your child, loss of the right to vote, loss of the right to possess a firearm, and loss of your job, in some cases.

If you find yourself charged with DWI, DUI, or any other type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. As the consequences of any criminal conviction may be severe, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for individuals who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

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What Are the Penalties for Underage DWI?

By Peek & Toland on November 3, 2018

Texas laws regarding underage drinking and driving are for more severe than they are for adults under the age of 21. If you are under the age of 21 and drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in your system, you can be charged with DUI. While adults over the age of 21 must be impaired by alcohol or have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or greater to face a drunk driving charge, those under 21 can face DUI charges after consuming only the smallest amount of alcohol, or any BAC greater than 0.00%.

For a first DUI offense, an underage driver can face a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500, a 60-day license suspension, 20 to 40 hours of community service, and mandatory alcohol awareness classes. A second DUI conviction is also a Class C misdemeanor, but it can result in a $500 fine, 120-day license suspension, up to 60 hours of community service, and mandatory alcohol awareness classes.

What Are the Penalties for Underage DWI?

Plus, if you are between the ages of 17 and 21 and your BAC measures 0.08% or greater, you could face a fine of up to $2,000, a jail sentence ranging from three to 180 days, and a driver’s license suspension ranging from 90 day to one year.

In addition to the penalties stemming from any DUI conviction, underage drivers may also face collateral penalties, such as cancellation of their motor vehicle insurance policies and increased premiums for high-risk motor vehicle insurance.

If you find yourself charged with DWI, DUI, or any other type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. As the consequences of any criminal conviction may be severe, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for individuals who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

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What is Difference Between DWI and DUI in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on September 12, 2018

While many individuals may use the terms “DWI” and “DUI” interchangeably, there are significant differences between the two criminal offenses under Texas law. In considering any criminal charges that you may be facing, it is essential to know the distinction between the two crimes and their differing penalties.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a violation of Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Section 106.041 that applies only to minors, or individuals under the age of 21. Under this criminal offense, minors can be charged with DWI if they are driving with any detectable amount of alcohol in their systems that is under the legal limit, or a blood alcohol concentration of .08. Therefore, a minor’s blood alcohol concentration level or level of impairment is irrelevant for this crime. Typical penalties for a DUI, which is a Class C misdemeanor, include a fine of up to $500, up to 40 hours of community service, mandatory alcohol education sessions, and a driver’s license suspension of up to 60 days. There is no jail time for a DUI conviction.

What is the Difference Between DWI and DUI in Texas?

On the other hand, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a violation of Texas Penal Code Section 49.04 and is therefore a more serious criminal offense. Any individual, whether a minor or an adult, may be charged with DWI if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater or is driving while impaired. The penalties for DWI, predictably, are far more severe. Individuals convicted of DWI as a first offense can face up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, and a driver’s license suspension of up to one year.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, including DUI or DWI, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and provide you with the strongest defense possible. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

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Defining Reasonable Suspicion

By Peek & Toland on August 29, 2018

Texas law requires that the law enforcement officer who stops a driver have a reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver has committed a traffic offense, is driving while intoxicated (DWI), or is driving under the influence of narcotics (DUI). It is this reasonable suspicion that gives the officer the legal authority to pull over the driver. After the officer has stopped the vehicle, he or she can ask the driver to undergo a breath or blood test if he or she has reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Absent reasonable suspicion, the law enforcement officer’s stop is likely illegal, and any evidence that comes out of the stop, such as breath or blood test results or statements by the driver, may not be admissible in court.

 

Defining Reasonable Suspicion

It is not enough for a police officer to have a hunch or merely suspect that a driver has committed a traffic offense or crime. Rather, the police must have concrete, specific facts to justify the traffic stop. If a police officer doesn’t have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop, then the stop is illegal under Texas law. Ultimately, it is up to a judge to determine whether a police officer had reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle.

Sobriety checkpoints, however, are an exception to the reasonable suspicion standard for a police officer to pull over a vehicle. Law enforcement in Texas and many other states can and often do set up these checkpoints during busy holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. During these checkpoints, police officers will stop a random number of vehicles, such as every fifth or tenth vehicle that passes by the checkpoint.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including charges of resisting arrest. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

 

Posted in Criminal Defense, DWI

What Are the Differences Between DUI and DWI?

By Peek & Toland on August 5, 2018

While many people use these terms interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between DUI and DWI in the state of Texas. DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, refers to minor drivers who have any detectable amount of alcohol in their systems, whereas DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated, refers to an “intoxicated” person (either a minor or an adult) who is operating a motor vehicle in a public place. In order to be intoxicated under Texas law, you must either:

·         Not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of these substances, or any other substance into the body, OR

·         Have an alcohol concentration (blood alcohol content/BAC) of 0.08 or more.

On the other hand, there is no minimum alcohol concentration required for a minor, or an individual who is under the age of 21, to be charged with DUI. So long as the police officer can smell alcohol on the minor’s breath, he or she can charge the minor with DUI. However, an officer routinely will ask a minor to undergo sobriety tests or a breath test to measure the alcohol level of the minor. Texas, like many other states, has a zero tolerance policy for minor consumption of alcohol while driving a motor vehicle, whether it be a car or a boat.

 

What Are the Differences Between DUI and DWI?

There are also major differences in the punishments for DUI and DWI. A first-time DUI conviction is a Class C Misdemeanor, which usually results in an order to pay court costs and a $500 fine, completion of an alcohol education class, and completion of 20 – 40 hours of community service, the mandatory suspension of your license for up to two years, but no jail time. Texas law considers DWI, however, to be a more serious criminal offense; DWI charges can range from a Class B Misdemeanor to a First Degree Felony. For a first DWI offense, you will face a term of incarceration ranging from 30 – 180 days, fines of up to $2,000, an additional yearly surcharge to maintain driving privileges, the mandatory suspension of your license for up to two years, and the installation of an ignition interlock on any vehicle you drive.

At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you from DWI and any potential criminal charges. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.

Posted in Criminal Defense, DWI

What Are the Penalties for DWI in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on June 29, 2018

The penalties for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction are very serious, and they become increasingly severe for second and subsequent convictions. The severity of the penalties for a DWI conviction also depends upon the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. For example, if you cause a motor vehicle accident or bodily harm to another person in the course of a DWI, the penalties are more serious than if a police officer simply pulled you over for DUI. Likewise, a higher blood alcohol content/concentration (BAC) during a DWI can result in a more severe punishment.

For a first DWI offense with a BAC of less than .15, which is a Class B Misdemeanor, you can receive the following penalties:

·         A fine of up to $2,000

·         A jail sentence ranging from three to 180 days

·         Driver’s license suspension ranging from 90 to 265 days

If your BAC is .15 or greater, the offense becomes a Class A Misdemeanor, for which you can receive a fine of up to $4,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year. Similarly, a second DWI offense is a Class A Misdemeanor with the same penalties, but also with a driver’s license suspension ranging from 180 days to two years.

What Are the Penalties for DWI in Texas?

For a third DWI offense, you can face 3rd Degree Felony charges; a conviction can result in the following penalties:

·         A fine of up to $10,000

·         Two to 10 years imprisonment

·         Driver’s license suspension ranging from 180 to two years 

Various other factors can affect the penalties for a DWI conviction. For instance, if you have an open alcohol container at the time of your DWI, your minimum jail sentence increases to six days. If you are convicted of DWI that is the proximate cause of an accident with serious bodily injury, you could be incarcerated for two to 10 years, your minimum jail sentence will be at least 30 days, and you could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you from any potential criminal charges, including DWI and other alcohol-related criminal offenses. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time; contact our office as soon as you become the target of an investigation.

Posted in DWI

State Rep Victoria Neave Pleaded No Contest to DWI Charge

By Peek & Toland on April 25, 2018

Driving While Intoxicated charges invariably make headlines when they involve celebrities or well-known politicians. Last October, a state representative pleaded no contest to DWI.

State Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas was arrested by police in Dallas on June 6, 2017, after she drove into a tree in the Lakewood neighborhood. Police said her blood-alcohol level was almost twice the legal limit to drive.

A report in the Texas Tribune noted Neeve tweeted that she pled no contest, will pay a fine and be put on probation for 12 months.

Texas politician pleaded no contest to DWI

State Rep pleaded no contest to DWI

The representative will have her license suspended after pleading no contest to DWI. She will attend DWI education classes, submit to random alcohol testing and attend a victim impact panel. She issued a statement that read:

 “Earlier this year, I disappointed my family, my constituents, my supporters, and myself. I said then the responsibility was mine and that I would accept the consequences … I accept full responsibility and will continue to work to demonstrate that I have learned from my past.”

Neave’s case illustrates how a DWI conviction can turn your life upside down. If you are a well-know person, there is an added stigma.

In many cases, convicted drunk drivers lose their licenses. They may face heavy fines and jail time. Court fees and other charges rack up and DWI drivers face mandatory counseling programs.

Anyone hit with a DWI charge in Texas could face serious consequences that affect their lives financially, professionally, and socially.

Although there is a temptation to plead guilty to a DWI charge because you want to get the trauma behind you, this may not always be the best course of action.

In some DWI cases, an improper stop by a police officer or issues with testing may be challenged by your DWI criminal defense lawyer.

You should be aware that pleading guilty quickly is unlikely to help your case and you may lose out on potential defense strategies.

The penalties, even for the first DWI in the state of Texas, can be devastating. You should contact an experienced Austin defense attorney at Peek & Toland We have the in-depth knowledge and resources to provide you with exceptional legal representation.

Call us for a consultation if you have been charged with a DWI at (512) 474-4445

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Austin Police Arrested More than 200 in Pre Labor Day DWI Crackdown

By Peek & Toland on February 16, 2018

On occasions, police in Austin and other Texas cities mount major operations to target drunk drivers. Last year, Austin police arrested more than 200 drivers in the city in a pre-Labor day DWI crackdown. Police also routinely carry our crackdowns around New Year’s Eve.

A special enforcement period lasted for more than two weeks leading up to Labor Day, reported the TV station KXAN.

The station noted Austin police arrested 216 people and charged them with DWIs during the No Refusal Initiative period that ran from 10 p.m. Aug. 18 through 5 a.m. Sept. 5.

Of those who were arrested, 78 had enhanced misdemeanor or felony charges, police said. One of the defendants had a child passenger, while a further 15 had two or more prior convictions and 23 of the drivers had one prior conviction, the report stated.

Police DWI crackdown

Police carried out a DWI crackdown

The majority of the elevated charges — 39 — were for having a breath sample in excess of 0.15. The legal limit is a blood alcohol content of 0.08.

Austin police applied for 97 search warrants during the DWI crackdown allowing them to draw the blood of suspected drunk drivers. The report noted most of the drivers who were pulled over by the police agreed to provide breath or blood samples without warrants.

It’s worth noting that you don’t have to give a breath test if you are pulled over by police in Texas.

However, the Lone Star State has a controversial law of implied consent. If you are lawfully arrested by a state trooper or a police officer and that officer has probable cause to believe you were driving intoxicated, you consent to a test for your blood alcohol content (BAC) is implied.

As well as facing a potential DWI conviction, you will face sanctions for refusing a chemical test.

However, there are some sound reasons for refusing a breath test and instead giving a blood test later. A police officer must obtain a warrant to take your blood. People with borderline BAC tests may fall below the unlawful limit by the time a blood test is taken.

If you refuse a test, a police officer will confiscate your driver’s license and replace it with a temporary driving permit. On day 41 following your arrest, you will have your license suspended for 180 days unless you demanded a hearing. Second time DWI offenders who refused to give a test face a two-year suspension.

During special enforcement periods, blood testing is typically expedited.

Some of these operations net large numbers of suspected drunk drivers. For example, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers made in excess of 640 DWI arrests during a 15-day special enforcement period from Dec. 19 – Jan. 2 2015.

DPS Director Steven McCraw said focused patrols were directed at removing impaired drivers from the roads of Texas. He said:

“These focused patrols are designed to protect public safety by detecting and removing impaired drivers from Texas roadways. The holiday season can be a dangerous time to be on the road because of the increased potential for drunk driving, and DPS efforts during this period helped save lives.”

Find out more about DWI here on our website or call our Austin DWI defense lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

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Texas Police Officer Fired After Letting City Leader Go in DWI Stop

By Peek & Toland on January 9, 2018

Police in Texas are meant to apply the DWI laws fairly and equally. However, we sometimes read of abuses in the system. Recently, a police officer lost his job for letting a city council leader go after a DWI stop.

The police officer was fired from the department of the Grayson County city of Whitewright after he let a council member from another city go during a DWI traffic stop, reported Fox 4.

Officer Andrew Lefevre reportedly pulled over Ben Vincent, a member of the Tom Bean Council in July.

Dash cam video revealed the police officer said Vincent drove into oncoming traffic. The council member was seen telling Lefevre he drank a bottle of wine. However, the police officer suggested Vincent call a sober driver to pick him up.

Beau Heistand , the Whitewright Police Chief, said council members should not be given preferential treatment in matters such as DWIs. He said:

“There are a lot of fatalities that are caused by that. And allowing someone to get a slap on the wrist and call someone to come take them home isn’t going to get anywhere. The decision made by the officer is not the standard at which this agency operates,”

Heistand confirmed the police officer was no longer employed with the Whitewright Police Department.

Dubious DWI stop leads to police officer being fired

Police officer is fired over DWI stop

Just days after escaping a DWI charge, Vincent was involved in a head-on collision.

He was arrested after the vehicle he was driving crashed into one driven by a Tom Bean ISD school official, reported the Sherman Herald Democrat.

Vincent was booked into the Grayson County Jail on a charge of intoxication assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury. The offense is a third-degree felony which carries a sentence of up 10 years in prison.

Vincent resigned his position the following month. He cited health issues.

Your Rights After a DWI Stop in Texas

Police are meant to follow certain rules during DWI stops in Texas but on occasions, they bend the rules.

An officer must have a probable cause to stop you in the first place. He or she cannot randomly stop you unless you have committed another infraction like driving erratically or having a light out.

If you are pulled over, don’t panic and be aware of your rights. You do not have to tell an officer how much you drank. You also have a right to refuse to take part in field sobriety tests.

You can refuse to take a breath test. However, you will face charges if you refuse to take a blood-alcohol test at the station post-arrest. Find out more about your rights during a DWI stop here on our website.

If you have been charged with a DWI, please call our DWI defense lawyers for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

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