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Property Damage, Personal Injury Add to DWI ChargeIn a bizarre sequence of events, three drivers in Austin, Texas, were arrested for driving while intoxicated after being involved in three separate crashes at the same location and on the same night. Police officers were at the scene of a DWI crash when an allegedly intoxicated driver crashed into the back of a police car. After an ambulance arrived at the scene, another allegedly intoxicated driver crashed into that vehicle. No one was critically injured in the incidents, though three people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Causing property damage or personal injury in a DWI incident can result in harsher punishment if you are convicted.

Property Damage

Property damage in a DWI case most often involves damage done to another vehicle as the result of a crash. Prosecutors can add property damage as a separate charge from your DWI charge. Property damage is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of as much as $500. However, you may also face civil penalties if the owner of the damaged property files a lawsuit against you. The lawsuit is separate from the results of your criminal case and may require you to pay for repairing or replacing the property.

Personal Injury

You will face more serious punishments if you are convicted for a DWI accident that caused serious injury or death. A DWI incident that causes serious injury is called intoxication assault, which is a third-degree felony and may result in:

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Behavior You Should Avoid with a Pending DWI CaseYour character is on trial when you are charged with driving while intoxicated. Arguments in a DWI case often come down to whether you seem reliable when you deny having been impaired or intoxicated during your arrest. Your behavior after your arrest and leading up to your court appearance should not contradict your efforts to present yourself as a responsible person. The court is more likely to believe that you decided to drink and drive if you show continued poor judgment. There are four actions that can undermine your DWI defense:

  1. Talking About Your Case on Social Media: You speak more candidly when having a private conversation with friends than you would in court. You may tell your friends about how much you had to drink and how you felt on the night of your arrest. People mistakenly believe that their social media conversations are private. Anything you write on social media is a digital record that may become public. Prosecutors are monitoring your social media accounts to see if you post anything that may incriminate yourself. If they find something, they will try to present it in court as evidence of your guilt.
  2. Partying and Drinking: Public drunken behavior will feed the prosecution’s depiction of you as an irresponsible drinker. You are telling the court that you do not respect the seriousness of the DWI charge against you. You also risk being arrested again for an alcohol-related offense, such as public intoxication. You should avoid social outings that include drinking. Even if you do not drink, a picture of you on social media with a group of drunken friends looks bad.
  3. Driving on a Suspended License: Texas will suspend your driver’s license after your DWI arrest. This is a civil procedure that is independent of the outcome of your criminal case. Police will arrest you if they catch you driving while your license is still suspended. Unlike with a DWI charge, driving with a suspended license is straightforward and difficult to contest.
  4. Missing Your Court Date: The court may issue a warrant for your arrest if you fail to appear for your scheduled court hearing. You are giving the impression that you are trying to evade your charges, which implies guilt. If your absence was unintentional, you still appear to be irresponsible and disrespectful towards the court and the charge against you.

Proper Behavior

Your public appearance during your DWI case will help people form their opinions about your character. A San Antonio DWI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock can coach you on how to behave. Schedule a free consultation by calling 888-726-5625.

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DWI Conviction Prohibits Firearms PossessionTexas has strict requirements for permitting residents to have a license to possess a firearm. Though the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to possess firearms, lawmakers believe it is a danger to public safety to allow people convicted of serious crimes to own firearms. Being convicted of a felony or class A or B misdemeanor disqualifies you from having a Texas firearms license for several years. Thus, a conviction for driving while intoxicated will result in your firearms license being revoked.

Misdemeanors

A first-time DWI offense without any aggravating factors is a class B misdemeanor. Merely being charged with DWI causes an automatic suspension of your firearms license while your case is ongoing. If you are convicted, your license will be revoked, and you must wait five years to reapply for the license.

A second DWI offense is a class A misdemeanor but could disqualify you from having a firearms license. Texas law states that a person who is twice convicted of a drug or alcohol-related offense within 10 years is considered chemically dependent and ineligible to receive a firearms license.

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Mistakes Can Occur During DWI Blood Test ProcessThough more accurate than a breath test, a blood test can still have inaccurate results in a driving while intoxicated case. There are many chances for a blood sample to become contaminated during the process, resulting in the sample showing a higher blood alcohol concentration level than was actually in the driver’s blood at the time of the arrest. An experienced DWI defense attorney knows where errors are likely to occur in the blood test process that may make the test results inaccurate and inadmissible in court.

Blood Drawing

Mistakes in taking the suspect’s blood can contaminate the sample from the start. A police officer drawing your blood is not always as skilled as a medical professional. The officer may make a mistake by:

  • Waiting too long to draw the blood sample;
  • Contaminating the sample with the alcohol swab used to clean the extraction site on the skin; or
  • Drawing a blood clot, which has a higher concentration of blood alcohol than a normal blood sample.

You may need to recount possible mistakes made during the blood drawing process, as the person drawing the blood is not required to testify.

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Posted on in DWI / DUI

Anonymous Tips Can Justify DWI StopsA police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a driver has committed an offense in order to legally stop the driver. For cases of driving while intoxicated, the officer usually must witness driver behavior that suggests that the driver is impaired. A 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling set a precedent that an officer can stop a vehicle based on an anonymous tip, even if the officer does not witness the alleged behavior. If your DWI arrest stemmed from an anonymous tip, your defense can question the credibility of the tip and argue that it did not create enough reasonable suspicion to allow the officer to legally stop you. Your defense will ask several questions about the nature of the anonymous tip:

  1. How Detailed Was the Tip?: A witness providing a credible tip about a drunk driver should say more than “I saw a drunk driver.” Did the anonymous source describe why he or she thought the driver was drunk? Was the source personally affected by the driver’s behavior? Did the source sound coherent when giving the explanation? The prosecution has a heavy burden to prove the credibility of the tip because it cannot prove the source’s personal credibility.
  2. Did the Information Create a Reasonable Suspicion?: An anonymous source is likely a private citizen who is not trained to judge whether a driver may be impaired. Some driving mistakes do not reach the level of impaired driving, but the witness still reports it as suspicious activity. The witness may have seen a supposedly intoxicated person walking towards his or her car without seeing that person actually get in the vehicle and drive away.
  3. How Was the Tip Reported?: Courts find an anonymous tip to be more credible if the person giving the tip believes that he or she may not remain anonymous. A person is unlikely to make a false report by calling 911 because the operator can trace the call. However, that idea assumes that the person knows that emergency responders have caller ID. The defense will question the credibility of any witness who did not wish to identify him or herself to the police.
  4. Is There a Transcript of the Conversation?: A recorded call of the anonymous tip provides a clear record of what the witness said. The defense can analyze the recording for inconsistencies or evidence that the tip was not credible. Without a recording, the prosecution relies on the testimony of the person who received the tip. The defense can question that person’s memory of what the anonymous source said and how the person interpreted that information.

Illegal Stops

Police officers will use unreliable anonymous tips to stop drivers for suspicion of DWI. A San Antonio DWI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock can dismantle the prosecution’s case by proving that the initial traffic stop was illegal. To schedule a free consultation, call 888-726-5625.

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