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How a Single-Vehicle Crash Affects a DWI CaseWhen a driver is involved in a crash, the responding police officers will be on alert for signs that the driver is intoxicated. They may become suspicious if there is an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle or the driver has symptoms of intoxication. Driving while intoxicated in an incident that causes serious injury to another party is a felony instead of a misdemeanor. However, some suspected DWI incidents are single-vehicle accidents in which no one other than the driver was injured. How might a single-vehicle accident affect your DWI case? There are several factors to consider:

  1. Cause of the Accident: When a person charged with DWI is in a single-vehicle crash, there can be an assumption that the suspect’s intoxication caused the crash. Proving that other circumstances were responsible for your crash could help dispel the idea that you must have been intoxicated. The road conditions may have been treacherous because of precipitation or debris. You may have reacted to the reckless behavior of another driver. Your vehicle may have malfunctioned. You need to tell your defense lawyer what caused your crash.
  2. Mistaken Symptoms: Some of the symptoms of intoxication that police officers look for include erratic behavior and slurred speech. However, a head injury you suffered during your accident could just as easily cause those symptoms. You should also refuse to take any field sobriety tests at the scene because you do not know how your accident may have affected your balance and coordination.
  3. Blood Samples: You have the right to refuse a blood or breath test to measure your blood alcohol concentration, though it may result in an automatic driver’s license suspension. However, the officer may not need your consent to take a blood sample if you are unconscious following a crash. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the implied consent law allows an officer to take a blood sample without a warrant from an unconscious person who is suspected of DWI as long as there are exigent circumstances that require an immediate draw.
  4. Property Damage: Prosecutors may add a charge of reckless damage or destruction of property if your accident caused property damage. This is a Class C misdemeanor charge that results in a $500 fine. You may also be ordered to pay the property owner for the value of replacing the property.

Contact a San Antonio DWI Defense Lawyer

When you are arrested on suspicion of DWI after a crash, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A San Antonio DWI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock will prepare a defense strategy to prevent a conviction. To schedule a free consultation, call 888-726-5625.

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Choose Your Words Carefully During a DWI StopIf you have ever been pulled over by a police vehicle, you know the dread and nervousness you feel even if you do not believe you have done anything wrong. Feeling nervous can cause you to say things that you will later regret. Unfortunately, police can use what you say during a traffic stop as evidence in order to arrest you for an offense such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. How can you get through a traffic stop without saying something that may be incriminating? You should know when to be quiet and how to answer questions honestly without divulging too much information.

Silence Is Golden

One way to avoid making an incriminating statement is to keep your talking to a minimum during the stop. Speak when the officer asks you a question but otherwise remain silent. Do not volunteer information that the officer did not ask for, even if you think that it may help you. For instance, saying that you are not drunk before the officer asks you a question will make them more suspicious. You do not have to prove anything. The officer is the one who must prove that there is probable cause to arrest you.

What to Say

During the stop, the police officer may ask you questions that will try to make you admit on your own that you are intoxicated. Common questions include:

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Four Medical Conditions That Can Be Mistaken for IntoxicationIf you are stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the police officer will be looking for signs that you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Besides the telltale odor of alcohol, symptoms of intoxication include slurred speech, watery eyes, and appearing disoriented. However, there are pre-existing medical conditions that may cause these same symptoms without you being intoxicated. Even a breath alcohol test can be tainted by a medical condition. An officer will likely assume that these symptoms are due to intoxication, and it may not occur to you to mention your medical condition during your stop. You need to tell your DWI defense lawyer if you have any of the following conditions:

  1. Diabetes: A person with diabetes can function normally as long as they keep their blood sugar at a stable level. If their blood sugar falls too low, they can become irritable, dizzy, and disoriented – all of which the officer could interpret as intoxication. Additionally, people with diabetes may have an abnormally high amount of ketones in their breath, which a breath test may mistake for alcohol.
  2. Brain Injury: Suffering a brain injury can cause symptoms that never fully go away. The victim may always have trouble with speaking, short-term memory, and coordination. Your friends and family may understand that this is how you normally behave, but a police officer does not know that and may conclude that you are intoxicated.
  3. Epilepsy: People with epilepsy can suffer seizures without warning. If a seizure happens while they are driving, they could get into a serious accident or be forced to pull over. A police officer who encounters someone having a seizure may see a person who is unresponsive, distracted, dizzy, or even violent. They may arrest the person on suspicion of DWI without knowing that the person is suffering a medical emergency.
  4. Dementia: Dementia is a degenerative mental condition, meaning that the symptoms will progress over time. A person in the early stages of dementia may occasionally be confused, unresponsive, or irritable. A police officer may conclude that an intoxicating substance is causing this behavior and not a mental condition.

Contact a San Antonio DWI Defense Lawyer

You can be held criminally responsible for traffic violations and reckless driving if you knew that you have a medical condition that can impair your driving. However, this is different from a DWI charge, which must involve drugs or alcohol. A San Antonio DWI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock can present your medical history to show that there was another explanation for your apparent intoxication. To schedule a free consultation, call 888-726-5625.

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Alcohol Sellers Can Be Culpable in DWI CasesWhen a person is accused of driving while intoxicated, they are considered responsible for becoming intoxicated and choosing to drive. A first-time DWI conviction in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by as long as 180 days in jail, a fine of $2,000, and a driver’s license suspension. However, responsibility for a DWI sometimes extends to the person who served the alcohol to the driver. It is a crime in Texas to sell alcohol to someone who is intoxicated, and a conviction can lead to serious consequences – particularly if the intoxicated person hurts someone during their DWI incident.

Bartender Charged in Connection with DWI Case

A bartender in Austin, Texas, was recently arrested for allegedly serving alcohol to an intoxicated man who was later involved in a fatal accident. The driver was charged with intoxication manslaughter and failure to stop and render aid. The driver allegedly hit a man pushing a shopping cart and fled the scene on foot before police caught him. An investigation by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission determined that a bartender at an area restaurant had served alcohol to the driver when he was noticeably intoxicated. After arresting the bartender, the Commission stated that alcohol retailers and their employees must be accountable for monitoring the physical condition of their customers and potentially preventing a DWI incident.

Consequences

Selling alcohol to an intoxicated person is a misdemeanor offense and punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and up to a year in jail. However, the consequences extend beyond criminal charges. The person who sold alcohol to an intoxicated driver may be liable for personal injury damages if someone was hurt or killed in an accident. The establishment that sold the alcohol could be fined or have its liquor license suspended.

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How a Background Check on Your Texas License Plate Can Lead to a DWI ArrestAn arrest for driving while intoxicated in Texas starts with the police officer having reasonable suspicion that the driver has broken the law, either while monitoring passing traffic or when responding to an accident. An officer is legally allowed to stop a driver if the driver has committed a traffic violation or is driving in a manner that suggests impairment. The officer may also conduct a background check on drivers by entering their license plate numbers into a database, which may indicate that the driver has an outstanding warrant or the vehicle is not confirmed to have liability insurance. During the stop, the officer can arrest the driver for DWI if there is probable cause to believe that the driver is intoxicated.

Precedent in Texas

A 2017 Texas appellate court ruling confirmed that a police officer is legally allowed to stop a vehicle that a database flagged for not having insurance, even if the database was inaccurate. In 2015, an officer was entering plate numbers of passing vehicles when one was listed for “unconfirmed insurance,” which could mean that the insurance on the vehicle had lapsed. He stopped the vehicle to check for proof of insurance and eventually arrested the driver on suspicion of DWI.

The defendant was convicted for the DWI charge but appealed the decision, saying that the traffic stop was not legal because his vehicle was insured at the time. Despite the inaccuracy in the database, the appellate court confirmed the conviction:

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