Driving While Intoxicated
If you have been arrested for DWI in Johnson, Tarrant, Hill, or Somervell county, you will need an experienced and aggressive DWI attorney. Don W. Bonner will provide this type of legal defense to you for any DWI or other alcohol related case. Mr. Bonner understands what it takes to thoroughly investigate, evaluate, and contest any DWI case.
A DWI conviction is an obstacle that every person must avoid. While it is legal for an adult to consume alcohol, it is illegal to drive when intoxicated. You must realize that a DWI conviction can lead to jail time, high fines, fees, court costs, increased insurance rates and possibly the loss of your employment. A DWI conviction will have long-term consequences that negatively impact your future such as a barrier to certain employment opportunities, educational opportunities, and revocation your driving privileges. You cannot afford this to happen to you. Remember, just because you have been arrested for DWI does not mean you are guilty. Nor does it mean you can or will be convicted. However, you must fight the case with an experienced DWI attorney. Do not give up or give in! Call The Law Office of Don W. Bonner, PLLC at (817) 641-4055 for immediate legal assistance.
The Texas Penal Code states that a person commits the offense of Driving While Intoxicated “if the person is intoxicated and is operating a motor vehicle in a public place”. Tex. Pen. Code §49.04(a).
“Intoxicated” is not having the normal use of one’s mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater”. Tex. Pen. Code §49.01(2)(A) and (B).
Driving While Intoxicated can be a classified as either a misdemeanor offense or a felony offense depending upon any prior convictions for DWI or if you have a child younger than 15 years of age in the automobile. A DWI first offense is classified as a Class B misdemeanor unless your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) measures 0.15 or above, then it would be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. A DWI arrest with two or more prior DWI convictions is classified as a third degree felony. A DWI arrest with a child passenger younger than 15 years of age is classified as a State Jail Felony even if the driver does not have any prior DWI convictions.
A DWI investigation usually begins when a person is detained by law enforcement for some type of traffic violation or someone reports an erratic driving pattern. The initial detention by law enforcement may be legal or illegal depending on the facts and circumstances. This area of attack is often overlooked by attorneys without the proper training and experience.
All persons in America have a constitutional right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures. U.S. Const., Fourth Amendment. A defendant in any criminal case can challenge the legality of a police officer’s detention of that person. The detention in a DWI case is usually the initial traffic stop or continued detention after the traffic stop. Your criminal defense attorney must be experienced in this type of challenge to the prosecutor’s case against you.
Don W. Bonner reviews all evidence related to the initial traffic stop including audios, videos, written reports, and probable cause affidavits to determine if the stop was legal or illegal. If the traffic stop appears to be illegal, then a motion to suppress evidence can be filed to resolve the issue. The Court will conduct an evidentiary hearing where the prosecution has the burden to prove the legality of the traffic stop. If the Court determines the stop was illegal, the Court can order that all evidence seized by the police as a result of the illegal detention to be suppressed at trial. This effectively ends most cases since the State will not have the evidence to proceed with the case or present to a jury.
After the initial traffic stop, a law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion the person driving is intoxicated before he can further detain the driver and investigate. This is called an investigative detention. There are many reasons the police might say they had reasonable suspicion to believe a driver was intoxicated.
A DWI investigation usually includes a battery of field sobriety tests. These are referred to as standardized field sobriety tests and usually include: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test. A person does NOT have to submit to any of these tests. However, the police will try to influence a person to participate in these tests and may even instruct the person to submit a breath sample in a portable breath tester on the side of the road. A person does NOT have to submit to this test.
Once a police officer conducts a DWI investigation he may arrest the driver if the officer has probable cause to believe the person is driving while intoxicated. This probable cause usually stems from the administration and results of the field sobriety tests as well as other subjective observations of the arresting officer.
A police officer must have probable cause to lawfully arrest a person for any criminal offense including a DWI. If there is not probable cause to arrest someone, the arrest is unlawful. If the arrest is deemed unlawful, then evidence gathered as a result of that unlawful arrest may be excluded during a trial as the “fruit of the poisonous tree”. Your criminal defense attorney must have the knowledge and experienced to challenge the legality of the arrest.
Don W. Bonner will review all of the evidence in the case to determine if the evidence supports a lawful arrest. If it does not, Mr. Bonner can file a motion to suppress the arrest and all evidence illegally obtained as a result of the arrest. If any field sobriety tests were performed improperly they should be aggressively contested along with the legality of the arrest. This aggressive approach can lead to the exclusion of damaging evidence and a more favorable result in the case.
Once the person has been arrested for DWI, they are taken to jail where the officer usually requests the suspect to voluntarily submit a sample of their breath or blood to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC). Remember, a person does NOT have to voluntarily submit to a blood or breath sample. If a suspect refuses, a search warrant may be requested to obtain a sample of a suspect’s blood without that persons consent. Furthermore, the police officer usually requests the suspect to submit to another round of field sobriety tests. Please note the suspect is already under arrest. Therefore, these tests are usually requested to gather more harmful evidence, make a suspect look uncooperative, and bolster the prosecutor’s case at trial. A person does NOT ever have to voluntarily submit to any field sobriety test at any time either prior to or after an arrest.
If a search warrant is obtained and a person’s blood is drawn for analysis, a skilled defense lawyer will review the search warrant and procedures followed to determine if the results are admissible. If a suspect voluntarily provides a blood sample or breath sample, the validity of the test and the results may be contested. There are many ways to attack the validity of the blood and breath tests. Don W. Bonner will evaluate these procedures and challenge the accuracy and admissibility of any unfavorable evidence.
If a person refuses to voluntarily submit a breath or blood sample after they have been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated, the person’s driver’s license will be confiscated and suspended by the Department of Public Safety for a certain period of time depending on the nature of the charges and the person’s driving record.
A person has right to challenge the driver’s license suspension at an Administrative Law Hearing within a certain period of time prior to suspension. If one’s driver’s license is suspended, the person may obtain an essential needs license, also known as an Occupational Driver’s License. This can be done by filing a petition for Occupational Driver’s License and conducting an evidentiary hearing to determine the needs of the driver. Don W. Bonner will help you obtain your Occupational Driver’s License so one may continue to legally drive to your place of employment and for other essential needs.