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Drinking and Driving

As the holiday season is upon us, parties abound with family, work, school, and friends. Alcohol is a frequent accompaniment to the festivities. To be sure, law enforcement will be out working the roads and freeways at this time as well. Get a designated driver if you are drinking. DWI is a serious crime and has serious and sometimes deadly consequences for all who share our roads. But if you happen to be stopped for a DWI investigation, it is important to know your rights.

In Texas, if you are over 21 years old, it is not illegal to drink alcohol and then drive, so long as you are not intoxicated. A DWI charge requires the state prove that a person operated a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. "Intoxicated" means an alcohol concentration of .08 or above or not having the normal use of one's mental or physical faculties. If the state proves that a breath test or blood test has an alcohol concentration of .15 or above at the time of testing, then the charge is enhanced.

A driver stopped for suspicion of DWI has a right to refuse roadside tests, including portable breath test, and field sobriety tests. And, aside from providing your identifying information and vehicle insurance documents, you have the right to refuse to answer an officer's questions. Be aware that you may still be detained, handcuffed, and taken to jail if you refuse to cooperate.

After arrest, you will likely be read a standard warning called the DIC-24 and asked to provide a breath or blood specimen. You may and should ask the officer if you can contact your attorney to advise you before providing a specimen (or at any time during the stop); it is possible that they may not allow you to do so until the completion of the officer's investigation. There are license revocation consequences for both refusing and failing a breath or blood test. If you refuse to provide a specimen, the officer may detain you and request that a magistrate issue a warrant to take a sample of your blood. If a warrant is obtained, the officer will, with the assistance of medical personnel, draw a sample of your blood and send it for future testing.

There are many possible defenses that experienced counsel may identify in a particular DWI charge: for example, did the officer have reasonable suspicion for the stop? Was there probable cause to arrest? Did the search warrant contain probable cause? Was the laboratory work conducted properly? If you are charged with DWI, you need an experienced attorney to review the facts of your case to see if the police conducted their investigation properly or even have enough evidence to sustain the charge.

If you have questions concerning DWI or other similar offenses, please contact Lewis Thomas for a free consultation at 281-513-9880.

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