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Texas DWI defense attorneysAlthough police officers are held to a higher moral standard than most civilians are, they are still capable of making mistakes like any other person. For instance, an officer’s bias could affect their decisions if they stop you on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. An officer is required to have reasonable suspicion that you are violating the law in order to stop you and probable cause that you have committed a crime in order to arrest you. This means that the officer should look at the evidence objectively before concluding that you are intoxicated, but some officers have already formed their opinion before they even talk to you. You may be able to defeat a DWI charge against you if you can prove that the officer’s confirmation bias was the reason for your arrest.

What Is Confirmation Bias?

When a police officer already suspects that you are intoxicated, they will pay more attention to evidence that confirms their bias or interpret evidence in a way that supports their bias. This is known as confirmation bias, and there are several ways that an officer may unintentionally use it during a DWI stop:

  • The officer assumes that any sluggish or unusual behavior is a symptom of intoxication when you may be sick, fatigued, or nervous.
  • The officer does not consider the many factors other than intoxication that could affect your performance on a field sobriety test, such as physical health issues.
  • The officer assumes that your refusal to answer questions or agree to a chemical sobriety test means that you are hiding the fact that you are intoxicated.

Confirmation bias is one of the primary reasons you should refuse a field sobriety test, even when you know you are sober. Evaluating your balance or eye movement is completely subjective, and the officer’s interpretation of your performance might be based on an assumption that you are intoxicated.

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Has COVID-19 Reduced the Number of DWI Arrests in Texas?Many people expected the number of arrests in Texas for driving while intoxicated to decrease this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are a couple of factors that seem to logically point towards this:

  • Many restaurants and bars have been closed, which reduces the number of people driving home after drinking.
  • People are more likely to stay at home as a precaution to avoid infection.

News reports in the early months of the pandemic suggested that DWI arrest numbers had dropped, but it seems that was only a temporary effect. A recent story on DWI arrests in San Antonio claimed that the number of arrests from Jan. 1 to July 6 was down only four percent from the same period last year – 2,255 arrests in 2019 and 2,168 arrests in 2020. 

Reasons Behind the Numbers

Why has the number of DWI arrests in Texas not decreased as people predicted? There are a few possible explanations:

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Will You Serve Jail Time If You Are Convicted of DWI in Texas?When you have been charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas, you may have many pressing questions, one of which is: If I am convicted, will I be sentenced to jail? Your aim is to avoid conviction, but what are your options if a conviction seems unavoidable? The good news is that many DWI convictions end in probation instead of jail time. Probation has its own limitations, such as travel restrictions and not being allowed to consume alcohol. However, many people prefer this to the alternative of spending months in jail. What is the likelihood that you would receive probation if you are convicted for your DWI charge? The answer depends on many factors:

  1. Is This Your First DWI?: Though Texas law does allow a jail sentence for a first-time DWI, the judge is more likely to be lenient if this is your first offense with no aggravating factors. The hope is that this was a one-time lapse in judgment and that the terms of your probation would mitigate the risk of you repeating the offense. A second or third DWI conviction suggests a pattern of behavior, and the judge is more likely to require you to spend some time in jail or prison.
  2. How Far Were You Over the Legal Limit?: A driver is considered legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.08 percent. However, being charged with DWI with a BAC of 0.15 or greater is a more serious offense, even if it is your first DWI. The maximum jail sentence increases from six months to one year, and the judge may view the higher level of intoxication as requiring stricter punishment.
  3. Was Anyone Hurt or Killed?: A DWI accident that results in an injury or fatality will be upgraded to a more serious charge. An injury would be intoxication assault, a third-degree felony that could result in two to 10 years in prison. A fatality would be intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony that could result in two to 20 years in prison. Each charge could be upgraded further if the person injured or killed was an on-duty first responder.
  4. Was a Child in Your Vehicle?: A DWI charge can also be upgraded if you had a passenger who was younger than 15. DWI with a child passenger is punishable by six months to two years in jail.

Contact a San Antonio DWI Defense Lawyer

How you present your defense in your DWI case will determine whether you are convicted and how severe the penalties will be if you are convicted. A San Antonio DWI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock will work to get you the best possible outcome in your case. To schedule a free consultation, call 888-726-5625.

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Do To-Go Alcohol Sales Conflict with Open Container Laws?The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that restaurants are allowed to operate in Texas. The recent decision to close bars amid concerns about spreading the coronavirus has received attention, including protests by bar owners and employees. Texas had earlier enacted another change to how alcohol is sold when it allowed to-go alcohol sales from restaurants. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the waiver for to-go alcohol sales in order to help restaurants that could no longer serve dine-in customers. He has said that he will consider continuing the practice after the pandemic is over because of its popularity. However, to-go alcohol sales can potentially lead to drivers violating the open alcohol container laws and a charge of driving while intoxicated if they are not careful.

How Do To-Go Sales Work?

The waiver for to-go alcohol sales allows customers to purchase an alcoholic beverage as a carry-out order as long as:

  • They are purchasing the beverage along with food
  • The alcohol is in a sealed container while it is being transported

With the new rule, restaurants have been able to sell beer, wine, and kits to make your own mixed drinks at home. Despite the name, to-go alcohol sales do not allow you to take an alcoholic beverage in a to-go cup as you would with a non-alcoholic beverage.

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How Texas DWI Enforcement Applies to MotorcyclesFor riders throughout the U.S., motorcycles are more than a means of transportation. Owning and riding a bike can be a hobby, passion, and part of your identity. However, you need to remember that motorcycle riders follow the same laws for driving while intoxicated as everyone else on the road. If you are caught operating your bike with a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.08 percent, you will face a misdemeanor criminal charge that could result in jail time, a fine of as much as than $2,000, and a driver’s license suspension. The suspension would also affect your eligibility to operate other vehicles.

Signs of DWI on a Motorcycle

Operating a motorcycle requires a different set of skills than driving a car, including the ability to keep yourself balanced and shift your body during turns. Because of this, police officers are looking for different signs that may indicate motorcycle riders are intoxicated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes these signs as “cues” and has two categories of cues that it instructs officers to watch for in motorcycle riders. According to an NHTSA study, “excellent cues” predicted a motorcycle DWI half of the time and include:

  • Difficulty keeping balance when stopped or dismounting the bike
  • Drifting during turns and curves in the road
  • Unsteady turns
  • Unnecessary weaving
  • Inattention to surroundings
  • Erratic behavior

There is another set of “good cues,” which predicted a motorcycle DWI in 30 to 50 percent of cases. They include:

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Office

Bexar County

In the historic King William District

1011 S. Alamo,
San Antonio, Texas 78210
210-226-0965
888-726-5625 Toll Free
210-226-7540

Office

Guadalupe County

109 Court Street,
Seguin, Texas 78155
830-372-1522
888-726-5625 Toll Free