Texas 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.
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.
Though 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.
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.
A 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is common to see local law enforcement promote no-refusal periods for people suspected of driving while intoxicated. Holidays, such as the upcoming Labor Day weekend, are a popular time for celebrating, which can increase the number of people who are drinking and driving. No-refusal weekends often coincide with these periods in order to punish those who break DWI laws and dissuade others from drinking and driving. Police departments increase their resources to make it more difficult for suspects to avoid blood alcohol concentration tests.
Implied Consent and No Refusal
No refusal refers to circumstances in which a DWI suspect cannot legally refuse to submit to a BAC test, such as a providing a blood or breath sample. Texas has an implied consent law that states that anyone who is allowed to drive in the state has also consented to cooperate with a BAC test. Refusing the test will result in an automatic suspension of the suspect’s driver’s license and can be used as evidence against the suspect in a DWI case. However, some courts have ruled that the implied consent law violates a suspect’s rights under the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits searching a person without a warrant. In this case, police obtain blood from the suspect in order to search for evidence of intoxication. To get around this defense, police can request a warrant to obtain a suspect’s blood sample. Refusing the warrant would be a criminal offense.
Being convicted for possession of an open alcohol container in the passenger area of a vehicle is essentially a traffic ticket if there are no other related charges. In Texas, it is a class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of as much as $500. However, an open alcohol container charge is sometimes coupled with a driving while intoxicated charge. Having an open alcohol container is an aggravating factor in a DWI case and may increase your punishment if you are convicted.
What Is an Open Container?
An open alcohol container is any receptacle holding alcohol that shows signs of being used. This includes when:
The Law Offices of Sam H. Lock, with offices in San Antonio and Seguin, Texas, provides criminal defense representation for people charged with state and federal crimes throughout Texas and the United States, including San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Midland, Pecos, Waco, Hondo, New Braunfels, Laredo, Kerrville, San Marcos, Boerne, and Del Rio, Bexar County, Guadalupe County, Comal County, Wilson County, Gonzales County, Kendall County, Bandera County, Caldwell County, Hays County, Travis County, Medina County, Blanco County, Burnet County, Atascosa County, Live Oak County, Nueces County, Uvalde County.