If a police officer suspects a motorist of driving while impaired (DWI) in Texas, they will pull the motorist over and administer certain field sobriety tests. The two uniform tests (meaning that they have been tested for accuracy and compared with other tests) are
· Walk and Turn: The driver will be asked to walk heel-to-toe for nine steps, turn around and walk nine more steps.
· One Leg: The driver is asked to stand with one foot raised at the minimum six inches, then count aloud or recite the alphabet. The test usually lasts for thirty seconds.
Police also use non-uniform tests now and then. These tests include asking the driver to close their eyes and touch their noise, or to stand with their feet together and look up at the sky. If the driver fails these tests, they will be taken to a police stop and asked to submit to a chemical test to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC). The test is usually a breathalyzer, but it can also be a blood test, which is believed to be more accurate. In Texas it is illegal to excursion with a BAC of .08 or above.
If the driver has such a BAC, or if they refuse to submit to a test, they will be handed a notification of the suspension of their driver’s license. This is the start of the first kind of penalty for DWI: civil sentencing.
Having your driver’s license suspended or revoked is considered a matter for a civil court. After you receive your notification of suspension, you have 15 days to request a driver’s license hearing. If you fail to do so, your license will be automatically suspended forty days after you received notice.
At the hearing, you and a representative for the Department of Public Safety will present arguments to a estimate. The plaintiff’s job is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were driving with an illegal BAC, and that the police officer had due cause to pull your over. If you did not submit to a chemical test, the plaintiff must show that the officer had good reason to believe you were driving while impaired.
If the plaintiff is successful, your license will be suspended. If this is your first DWI, the suspension will last up to 180 days. Suspension for a second DWI can last up to 2 years. already if you win your civil case, you may nevertheless confront criminal charges.
Other penalties for impaired driving are handed down by criminal courts. In Texas, a first offense is a Class B misdemeanor. You will be held in jail for at the minimum 72 hours, maximum 6 months. You could also confront a fine of up to $2,000 and 24-100 hours of community service. The penalties become increasingly harsh with each conviction.
For more information about DWI law in Texas, contact Dallas DWI defense attorney Mark Lassiter.