Many clients facing charges for driving while intoxicated do not realize there are separate administrative and criminal penalties. The criminal charges are adjudicated in court; the administrative penalties are processed by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the State Office of Administrative Hearings. For a first-time offender, the criminal sentence may be up to 180 days in jail, and/or a fine up to $2,000. On the administrative side, the offender’s driver’s license will be suspended by 90 days.
With these serious consequences, it is imperative that an individual arrested for DWI seek an attorney’s counsel. Our law firm’s approach is a thorough investigation of the factual record, starting with the moment the police stopped the driver. What justification, if any, was cited in the police report for this stop? Throughout the interaction, did the police follow proper police procedures?
Reviewing Police Procedures
Remember, a driver has legal rights throughout the entire stop. Assuming there was a valid reason for the stop, police must base any progressive testing, such as a field sobriety test or a breath test, upon observable signs of intoxication. These signs may include slurred speech, breath that smells of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, and logically incoherent conversation. If police obtained evidence from improper procedures, you have the right to file a motion to exclude this evidence. If the court agrees, the prosecutor may be unable to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in court.
Even with breath evidence, there are opportunities for a defensive strategy. Did the police administer the breath test correctly? Did lab technicians properly handle and process the evidence? Improprieties may have tainted the evidence, again giving rise to a motion to exclude it.