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Prosecutors Predict Increase in New Year's Weekend DWI ArrestsTexas Department of Public Safety troopers made 400 arrests for suspicion of driving while intoxicated during the Christmas and New Year’s weekends last year. Local and state law enforcement always anticipate an increase in DWI incidents during holidays, but prosecutors believe there may be even more arrests than normal because of the day of the week that New Year’s Day falls on. Having the weekend followed by New Year’s Eve on Monday and New Year’s Day on Tuesday could mean a long weekend of drinking leading up to the holiday.

How Police Prepare

Local police departments often use public information campaigns to educate people about the dangers of drunk driving and the potential consequences if you are caught. For a major holiday, they prepare for an increased number of drunk drivers by increasing their own enforcement efforts:

  • More police officers are on patrol, watching for drunk drivers on roads they are most likely to use;
  • More prosecutors are available to advise officers on whether there is probable cause to make a DWI arrest;
  • More judges are on call to issue blood warrants, which require you to submit to a blood alcohol concentration test; and
  • More nurses are available to draw blood samples to be tested.

Law enforcement sometimes sets up DWI checkpoints, where officers stop all drivers to check for signs of intoxication. However, Texas has not authorized DWI checkpoints because they subject drivers to a search without establishing reasonable suspicion of committing a crime.

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Lawsuit Claims Texas's Driver Responsibility Program Unfair to Low-Income OffendersThe Austin Community Law Center has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas, challenging the state’s Driver Responsibility Program that levies fines against drivers whose licenses have been suspended for violations such as driving while intoxicated. The lawsuit, filed in conjunction with the national civil rights organization Equal Justice Under the Law, claims that the DRP disproportionately punishes low-income offenders who cannot afford the fines they are required to pay to regain their licenses. The lawsuit states that 1.4 million Texas residents have suspended driver’s licenses because they have not been able to pay the DRP surcharge.

Fine System

A court may punish a person convicted for a traffic violation such as a DWI by sentencing him or her to prison, issuing a fine, and suspending his or her driver’s license. Texas’s Driver Responsibility Program imposes additional fines on people whose licenses have been suspended. As part of its program, the DRP:

  • Issues the fines as an annual surcharge for three years;
  • Requires the driver to pay the surcharge as a lump sum or in monthly installments; and
  • Will suspend the license of a driver who misses a payment.

The surcharge amount depends on the offense. There is a $1,000 annual surcharge for a first-time DWI offense, which increases to $1,500 for any subsequent offense. A DWI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or greater has a $2,000 annual surcharge.

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Posted on in DWI / DUI

Which Factors Contribute to a Higher BAC?A recent poll by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute suggests that more Texans are in favor of stricter laws for driving while intoxicated than the national average. According to the results:

  • 60 percent of Texans support lowering the blood alcohol concentration limit to 0.05, as opposed to 54 percent of national respondents; and
  • 48 percent of Texans support lowering the BAC limit to zero, as opposed to 46 percent of national respondents.

Approving a zero-tolerance BAC law is unrealistic, but a 0.05 BAC limit has precedence. Utah is set to enact the country’s first 0.05 BAC limit at the end of the year, which may encourage other states to do the same. 

BAC Factors

How much alcohol does it take to reach a 0.05 BAC? That depends on several factors:

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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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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