How Is A DWI Defined Under Texas State Law?
DWI is defined as a person operating a motor vehicle in a public place while not having normal use of their mental or physical faculties by virtue of the introduction of alcohol or some other foreign substance in the body. It doesn’t require that the person knew they were going to get intoxicated. It only requires that they knowingly introduced some foreign substance into their body that caused them to lose the normal use of their mental and physical faculties.
DUI is often used interchangeably in common speech, however, DUI in Texas has a different meaning. If you are under the age of 21, driving in a public place and have ANY detectable amount of the alcohol in your system, regardless of its impact on your mental and physical faculties, you are guilty of Driving Under the Influence.
Walk Me Through A Brief Timeline Of What To Expect After Being Stopped On Suspicion Of DWI?
If police pulled you over, the officer will first engage you in conversation, he or she will ask for your license and proof of insurance – cooperate with this instruction. The officer is not engaging in small talk but is evaluating everything you say and do to detect any indication of intoxication. At this point in the stop, the officer will likely ask you to get out of your vehicle, will place you between your car and his or her squad car and commence a series of tests, usually including the Horizonal Gaze Nystagmus or HGN test, and a series of field sobriety tests. These tests are not designed to help you prove your sobriety, they are designed to provide the state with evidence of your intoxication. I recommend you politely refuse the tests. In addition, I also recommend you politely refuse any requests of the officer to search your vehicle or property. If the officer determines he has sufficient reason to believe you are intoxicated, you will be arrested, taken to the police station or county jail. At the time of the arrest the officer will inform you certain important rights – the right to remain silent, the right to consult with an attorney and the right to have an attorney present during any questioning. You must assert these rights at the time of the arrest. Once you arrive at the jail or other detention facility, you will be read additional statutory warnings regarding your right to refuse the breath or blood test and the related consequences of your refusal. Again, I recommend you refuse the breath or blood test. The officer may at this point secure a warrant to take a blood sample. If he does so, you should cooperate with the officer as directed but do not consent to the breath or blood test.
Within 48 hours of arrest, the accused will be seen by a judge who will inform the accused of the charges he or she faces, if there is an affidavit supporting the charges and the judge or magistrate will ensure that the accused understand his or her rights.
The judge will make sure that the accused understands his rights, including the right to have an attorney represent the accused and the right to have an attorney appointed to represent the accused if he or she cannot afford an attorney, the right to remain silent, and the right to an Examining Trial. (An examining trial is a hearing at which the court determined if there is sufficient probable cause to detain the accused.) If the court determines sufficient probable cause exists, then the court will set a bond sufficient to ensure the accused will appear for subsequent court appearances. In most cases, a person charged with a crime has the right to be released on reasonable bail.
If the accused cannot post the bail because it is too high he can file a motion with the court asking that the bail amount be reduced. In determining the bail, the court will consider the circumstances and the seriousness of the crime and the accused connections to the local community.
The prosecutor may then file charges. Charges are formally filed through an indictment, in the case of felonies, and through a complaint and information in the case of a misdemeanor.
Indictments are passed down by a grand jury if they determine that probable cause that a crime has been committed by the defendant, after evidence has been presented by the prosecuting attorney. If, at least, nine members of the grand jury do not believe probable cause exists then the grand jury “no bills” the case. The prosecuting attorney may present the case again later.
Once formal charges have been filed the court schedules an arraignment hearing. Much like the initial arraignment the court will give the defendant the charging instrument, either an indictment or information and complaint, will read the charges in open court and will ask for a plea from the defendant, either guilty or not guilty. Usually a plea of not guilty is entered and the case is set for a later date to allow the parties to prepare for trial.
After a sufficient time for the defendant to conduct his own investigation, which includes discovery of important documents and evidence in the possession of the prosecution, the defendant elects to enter into a plea agreement with the prosecution or take the case to trial.
For more information on DWI Cases In The State Of Texas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (940) 440-5250 today.