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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Possessing a Weapon During DWI Leads to Additional ChargeMany Texas residents have gone through the required steps in order to receive a license to carry (LTC) a firearm. The process involves submitting an application, taking state-approved training courses, and showing that their record is clear of any recent criminal charges. With an LTC, residents are allowed to carry an open or concealed weapon in most public places. However, legal gun possession can become a crime if you are being charged with committing another criminal offense at the same time, such as driving while intoxicated.

Unlawful Carrying of Weapon

Let us say that you have an LTC and are driving with your weapon either on your person or somewhere in the vehicle. A police officer stops you and, after observing your behavior, decides to arrest you on suspicion of DWI. The officer finds your weapon while searching your body or vehicle. Under Texas law, you may now receive an additional charge of unlawful carrying of a weapon, which is a Class A misdemeanor. How can you be unlawfully carrying your weapon when you have a valid LTC? Texas law states that it is unlawful to carry a weapon while committing a criminal offense, such as a robbery, assault, or, in this case, driving while intoxicated. The same weapon charge may apply if you are caught driving with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle.

What Is Your Defense?

One issue to consider if you have been charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon during a DWI arrest is whether the police officer was conducting an illegal search when they discovered the weapon. Just because the officer suspects you of DWI does not give them the right to conduct a search without a warrant.

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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