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How to Avoid a DWI Arrest during SXSW

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an event that is synonymous with the city of Austin. Locals and tourists from across the nation flock to the nine-day annual event, which showcases interactive media, music festivals, and conference.

SXSW is perfectly scheduled during Spring Break and attracts a large number of college students and twenty-somethings. During the event there are tons of concerts, parties, and alcohol. As a result, Austin law enforcement is on high alert for drunk and impaired drivers.

On March 4, 2016 the Austin Police Department announced the commencement of the “No Refusal Initiative”. During the No Refusal Initiative there will be an increased police presence and DWI checkpoints throughout Austin.

These roving DWI stops and checkpoints can be problematic for an impaired or drunk driver, because refusal of a breathalyzer test will not help the driver avoid arrest. Austin police officers are obtaining immediate warrants for blood samples of drivers suspected of drunk driving. The warrant will permit the officer to use reasonable force to obtain the blood sample.

Drivers over the age of 21 with blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08 will be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Drivers under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.02 will be arrested for the related offense of driving under the influence (DUI).

According to local news outlets, the Austin Police Department made over 79 DWI arrests as of March 12, 2016. The number is expected to increase due to the St. Patrick’s Day holiday and March Madness festivities that are also ongoing.

In light of the No Refusal Initiative it is important to remember these facts.

You can be charged with DWI even if you don’t feel drunk. In Texas, drivers age 21 or older may be charged with DWI if he or she has a BAC of 0.08 or higher. A BAC of 0.08 means the driver had 0.8 parts alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood in his or her system.  It is impossible to predict an individual’s blood alcohol concentration.

BAC is influenced by a variety of factors, including the drinker’s weight, metabolism, and gender, amount of alcohol consumed, time between alcoholic beverages, food consumed, and more.

It is completely possible for a driver to feel fine or capable of operating a motor vehicle and have a BAC of 0.08 or higher. Any driver caught driving a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 will be arrested and charged with DWI.

 DWI has serious criminal consequences. Texas legislators and prosecutors take drunk driving very seriously. If convicted of DWI, an individual faces jail time and expensive fines. A first-offense DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by:

  1. Between 72 hours and 180 days in jail
  2. Fine up to $2,000
  3. Driver’s license suspension of up to 1 year
  4. Annual surcharge of $1,000 to $2,000 (for three years) to be paid to the state of Texas

Penalties are more severe for repeat DWI and DWI resulting in serious bodily injury or death.

DWI has serious collateral consequences. While jail and steep fines are enough punishment, a DWI conviction can detrimentally affect all aspects of a person’s life, especially younger people. SXSW attracts a younger crowd, between ages 18 to 30.

A DWI conviction can result in suspension or dismissal from university, difficulty finding employment, and ineligibility for certain professional licenses. For a young person, a DWI can have haunting, long-term effects. While it is ideal to never drink and drive, it is imperative to consult an experienced DWI attorney if ever faced with DWI charges.

Call a Ride. It’s safer. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), in 2014 there were 925 Fatal DUI crashes resulting in 1,041 deaths; 1,701 DUI incapacitating injury crashes resulting in 2,328 incapacitating injuries; and 4,130 DUI non-incapacitating injury crashes resulting in 6,304 non-incapacitating injuries, statewide.

In the age of technology, catching a sober ride is easier than ever. You can do it the old fashion way and prearrange a designated driver or call a taxi. You can also use an app on your phone to arrange a ride with a ride-sharing service like Lyft or Uber. However you choose to do it, get home safely and refrain from drinking and driving.


DWI is a serious offense that can result in long-term consequences, including jail time, fines, dismissal from college, and difficulty finding employment.  If you are arrested for DWI in the Austin, Texas area do not face the charges alone. Consult an experienced DWI attorney.

Austin DWI Defense Lawyer, Kevin Bennett, has been defending individuals faced with DWI charges, including first-time DWI, repeat DWI, felony DWI, underage DWI, drug related DWI, and more.  Attorney Kevin Bennet is available 24/7 at (512) 476-4626. So no matter when you are arrested for DWI during the SXSW festival, he can review your case and prepare the strongest defense possible.

Kevin Bennett of the Law Office of Kevin Bennett has over eight years of experience defending individuals with DWI charges. He will zealously work on your behalf to get the charges reduced or dismissed, depending on the unique circumstances of your case.

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