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August 2015 - Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law

Five Things You Should Avoid When Out on DWI Jail Release

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DWI Jail Release

When you are arrested for driving under the influence (“DWI”), it is imperative that you take the charges seriously. Depending on the circumstances, you could face a stiff jail sentence, large fines and high court costs. After you are arrested for a DWI, and released, there are certain things that you should avoid doing.

The worst thing you can do is fail to understand the gravity of the situation, as the effects of DWI charges may follow you throughout the remainder of your life. According to Texas law and the Texas Department of Transportation, a first time DWI offense carries a fine up to $2,000, 3 to 180 days in jail and an annual fee of $1,000 to $2,000 for up to 3 years to retain your driver’s license. If there are certain aggravating circumstances, such as receiving a DWI with a child in the car, the penalties could be higher. Below you will find five mistakes you should avoid.

Five Things to Avoid

Avoiding the following when out on DWI jail release will allow you a fighting chance to challenge the charges you are facing:

  • First, you should avoid missing any court dates. You must appear at every court date the court assigns to you. Failing to appear at a court date guarantees that you will end up back in jail. The court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest and once you are arrested again, the court could place you back in jail for an unspecified amount of time.
  • Second, if you refuse to blow for a breathalyzer test, your license will automatically be suspended for 180 days; however, if you fail the breathalyzer test, your license will be automatically suspended for 90 days. Under no circumstances should you drive with a suspended license. You could be arrested and face more fines. It could also negatively affect your DWI case or administrative hearing to keep your license.
  • Third, to avoid driving with a suspended license, you should immediately request a hearing with the Texas Department of Public Safety once you are released from jail. You have 15 days from the date you receive the Notice of Suspension to file a request for an administrative hearing to contest the suspension. The hearing will be held within 120 days of receiving your request. However, any requests sent after 15 days will be denied.
  • Fourth, avoid drinking. Drinking may be a violation of your release and you might be subject to alcohol testing, which could land you back in jail.
  • Fifth, avoid posting any information related to your DWI on social media. Ultimately, anything you post can be used against you during your case.

Consult an Attorney

As you can see, there are many things that you can do wrong that could negatively impact your case. This also includes attempting to handle this on your own without an attorney. You should contact the experienced and knowledgeable Austin criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford who will protect your rights and aggressively advocate on your behalf.

Five Things You Should Know About DWI Laws in Texas

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DWI breath test

One of the most widely known and charged offense across the United States, including Texas, is driving while intoxicated (“DWI”). Under Texas Law, an individual is charged with a DWI when he or she, while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, operates a motor vehicle. Even if you are sleeping in a parked motor vehicle, you could still be charged with a DWI. DWI charges carry hefty penalties, fines and even significant jail time. It is important that you understand the consequences of drinking and driving, as well as relevant DWI laws in Texas.

Driving Under the Influence in Texas

Texas law indicates that a person commits a DWI when he or she is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. The law defines “intoxicated” in two separate ways:

  • Having a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more; or
  • Not having the normal use of your mental and physical faculties due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol.

For drivers under 21, any detectable amount of alcohol in their blood subjects them to a DWI.

Texas Law Also Requires Five Things:

  • First, Under Texas law, a police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you were violating the law to stop you and requires probable cause that you are intoxicated prior to an arrest.
  • Second, the arresting officer must provide you with a notice of suspension of your license. Texas law requires it. You have 15 days from the date the notice was served to request a hearing to contest the suspension or your license will be automatically be suspended for 90 or 180 days, depending on the circumstances of your case.
  • Third, at the administrative hearing with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Department must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that:
    • There was reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle or probable cause to arrest you;
    • You were operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated;
    • You were placed under arrest and offered an opportunity to perform the breathalyzer or to give blood; and
    • You refused to take the breathalyzer or refused to give blood to the officer; or
    • You failed a breath or blood test by registering an alcohol concentration of .08 or greater.
  • Fourth, Texas law has stiff penalties for first, second and third time offenders. You could face up to $10,000 in fines, 10 years in prison, and your license could be suspended for up to two years.
  • Fifth, the prosecution has to prove that you: operated a motor vehicle; under the influence of drugs or alcohol; in a public place; in the state of Texas; on the date of your arrest.

Consult an Attorney

If you are facing DWI charges, you should not hesitate to contact the Austin criminal defense lawyers at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford who will protect your rights and hold the prosecution to its high burden. Reach out to us today for a consultation on your case.

Can You Get a DWI While Sleeping it Off in Your Car in Texas?

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DWI breath test

News stories in Texas often arise featuring people charged with driving while intoxicated (“DWI”). Rarely, however, do these stories involve individuals charged with DWI in parked vehicles. Unfortunately, in many states across the United States, including Texas, if you are under the influence and in a parked car, you may still be charged with a DWI.

Under Texas law, a individual commits a DWI when he or she is operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. Texas law defines what it means to be intoxicated and what is considered a motor vehicle. However, it does not define the term operating. Since it does not define operating, the courts have to interpret the term and of course, they interpret it broadly. If your car is properly parked, in a designated parking area, and the engine is still running, you could be found to have been operating the motor vehicle. Likewise, if you are asleep and have the radio on and A/C blasting, or there exist other DWI indicators police look for, the court may find that you were operating the motor vehicle.

Ways to Avoid Getting Arrested for A DWI in A Parked Car

Sleeping in the driver’s seat is one of the ways that lead a police officer to believe that you were intending to drive while under the influence. Although that may not have been your intent, the police officer may choose to arrest you anyway.

DWI charges can be difficult to defend because you need to prove that you did not intend to operate the motor vehicle while you were intoxicated. If you take certain precautions, you will have an easier time fighting the charges. These precautions include:

  • Reclining the seat;
  • Sleeping in the back seat;
  • Shutting off the engine and the lights;
  • Taking your keys out of the ignition; and
  • Parking your car in a legal spot, if possible.

Ultimately, the best decision you could make is to place your keys in the trunk or outside the car. That way, the police cannot say that you intended to operate the motor vehicle while intoxicated because your keys were not easily accessible.

If you do decide to sleep it off in a parked car after a night of drinking, make sure you do everything in your power to ensure the police cannot say you were ‘operating’ the motor vehicle.

Contact an Experienced DWI Defense Attorney

With this information in mind, you can still be charged with a DWI, even if you intended to be responsible. If you are facing DWI charges, you should not hesitate to contact the Austin criminal attorneys at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford who will challenge the prosecution’s case and vigorously do everything in their power to decrease the chances that you will face fines, jail time or a suspended license.

How to conduct yourself when stopped for DWI. The new paradigm.

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DWI forced blood draw

When stopped for DWI, it used to be that you should simply refuse everything. Refuse the field sobriety tests, refuse the breath test, refuse the blood test, say as little as possible and ask for a lawyer. Assuming you had more than a few, this used to be a good plan (if you really only had two beers, you should probably be giving a blood test).

With the advent of search warrants for blood in DWI cases, this old paradigm can now end up making you much worse off. In Austin, Texas, where our practice is located, this started with “no refusal” weekends. APD started designating certain holidays or events (July 4 Weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, SXSW, etc.) as “no refusal” weekends. On “no refusal” weekends, if DWI arrestees did not give breath tests, the arresting officer would apply for a search warrant to take their blood. Over time, APD’s guidelines for when to get a search warrant for blood have gradually broadened outside of only “no refusal” weekends and holidays.

Currently, if you are stopped by APD for DWI and refuse any of their field sobriety tests—including the portable breath test (if one is available)—they will typically apply for a search warrant for blood. This is only absolute if there is a DWI enforcement officer involved. If there is not a DWI enforcement officer involved, depending upon the circumstances, you may still avoid a search warrant (for example: If you are stopped by an officer with less than 2-years experience, he or she will handle the arrest instead of calling for a DWI enforcement backup. Typically they will not get a search warrant even if you refuse some or all of the tests). If you have prior conviction for DWI, or if there is a collision, they will usually apply for a warrant even if you cooperate.

So, the game now is to avoid a search warrant for blood. Your best shot at this is to cooperate and perform all of the field sobriety tests (eye test, walk and turn, one leg stand and sometimes the modified Rhomberg test), and also to give a portable breath test if requested. Portable breath test results are not admissible in court, but they don’t always inform you about this (it is admissible for them to say it showed you had alcohol in your system, but they can’t say the number). If you are lucky, this will give you the best chance to avoid a search warrant for blood.

The rationale for this change in conduct is simple: Doing the field sobriety tests does give them ammunition to use against you, but poor balance is much easier to explain to a jury than a blood test where you are 2x the legal limit.

If it’s a “no refusal” day, you can’t get out of a search warrant for blood unless you give a breath test, so you may as well give a breath test. Breath tests are more susceptible to error than blood tests and, accordingly, easier to get jurors to bring into question.