There are two broad categories in Austin under which driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrest fall. First, and probably the more commonly occurring type, is where the police officers arrest innocent individuals who just had a few drinks without impacting their mental or physical faculties, leaving them with the ability to still drive normally. Second, there are those individuals who get arrested when they are undeniably intoxicated and get behind the wheel of a car. Regardless of the type of DWI, Austin prosecutors take drunk driving cases extremely seriously. You must be prepared with an experienced Austin DWI lawyer on your side.
What is Considered a DWI in Austin
If an individual operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then they are committing the offense of a DWI. There are two specific conditions that the individual must fulfill to be considered “intoxicated”.
- Having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08 (8%)
- Not having the “normal” user of mental/physical faculties due to alcohol or drugs in the body
What Happens After a DWI Charge
There is more than meets the eye when it comes to a DWI charge in Austin. There are essentially two different cases pending against you. One is a criminal case and the other civil. The criminal case is the one you are probably familiar with. The other is a civil case called an Administrative License Revocation Hearing (ALR hearing).
This ALR hearing is related to your ability to retain your driver’s license and keeping it from being suspended. You have 15 days after your DWI arrest to request an ALR hearing. If you don’t request the hearing within these 15 days, you are waiving your right to the hearing and your license will automatically be suspended. In order to have a chance to keep your license, it is critical to request this hearing or to have an Austin DWI lawyer/attorney do it on your behalf.
The DUI Process in Austin, TX
The first court appearance after your DWI arrest is call the arraignment. This is where you will meet directly with the judge and he will inform you of the charges against you. He will also ask you to enter a plea of either “guilty” or “not guilty.” If you plead guilty, you will likely receive your sentence immediately at the judge’s discretion. If you plead not guilty, the judge will set the next court date.
The pre-trial phase consists mainly of a trial (prior to your main trial), where the prosecutor will submit evidence against you. The judge will determine whether this evidence will be admissible during the trial. In this phase, it is good to already have a lawyer so they can review the evidence the prosecutor has on you and they can begin building your defense.
The second to last step in the process is the actual trial. The DWI trial takes place not long after the pre-trial and commonly lasts 1-2 days. Depending on your unique situation you may be tried in front of a jury or a single judge. A jury trial is always the best choice, contrary to popular belief. Speaking with an attorney is critical in choosing the correct type of trial.
After all of the evidence is presented by the prosecution, the jury or judge will determine whether you are guilty or not. If you receive a DWI conviction, you will be sentenced. A DWI conviction in Austin carries penalties such as jail time, expensive fines, and license suspensions. The conviction will be reported to the DMV and permanently remain on your record.
Are The Police Allowed To Take Your Blood?
The short answer is that in most cases the police have the right to draw your blood. If you are being arrested for a misdemeanor DWI and you haven’t explicitly consented to a blood draw, then that usually mean the police have a warrant for your blood. This warrant is similar to a search warrant, where the police are searching your body looking for alcohol.
This type of standing warrant is becoming more and more common during Austin’s “No Refusal Weekends.” During a No Refusal Weekend, the police keep a judge on duty for 24 hours and keep a person to draw your blood on duty. This streamlines the process of getting a warrant.
If you are being arrested for a felony (DWI with a child passenger or a 3rd DUI), the law in Austin allows the police to draw your blood without a warrant.
There are many details and procedures surrounding the blood draw. A competent Austin DWI lawyer can make sure the blood draw was properly executed and that the blood was properly stored and tested. Because of the MANY moving part associated with blood testing, the police and laboratories can make mistakes. Having an attorney to help your case by finding those mistakes is extremely beneficial to getting the blood evidence thrown out of court.
Do Defenses Exist Even After a Breath Test
The answer is undoubtedly YES. The breath test machines used in Austin were designed in the 1980s and use technology developed in the 70s. It is very possible for the specific machine that was used on you has some sort of error. An attorney can investigate whether the machine used on you was properly calibrated or if it did indeed have any errors. On top of this, there are a variety of 4th amendment defenses that can be used to suppress evidence such as the traffic stop that led to your arrest.
What Qualities Should An Austin DWI Lawyer Possess
The single most valuable thing that the lawyer you choose must possess is your confidence in their abilities to achieve the best possible outcome for your specific case. This confidence will come from an attorney who has a lot of experience dealing with drunk driving cases specifically in Austin and one who often take DWI cases to trial instead of settling for plea deals. A good attorney will not pressure you to pay them a retainer as fast as possible. They will hear out your whole case during the initial consultation and provide you with a realistic outlook on your case.