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Driving While Intoxicated

In Texas, a conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI, also referred to as "DUI") can lead to very serious consequences. Some of these consequences include a driver’s license suspension, jail time, steep fines, community service, Texas DPS (Department of Public Safety) surcharges and probation. Another penalty, that is considered indirect, could be an increased premium on your car insurance.

Needless to say, these penalties can have a disastrous impact on your life moving forward. However, being arrested for any offense does not necessarily mean that it will lead to a conviction. In the event that you are arrested and charged with DWI, it is vital that you contact a qualified Texas defense attorney who may be able to find inconsistencies or weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, which could lead to a reduction or dismissal of your charges.

In the event that you are arrested and charged with DWI, it is vital that you contact a qualified Texas defense attorney who may be able to find inconsistencies or weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, which could lead to a reduction or dismissal of your charges.

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office handles felony DWI cases, while the Travis County Attorney’s Office prosecutes misdemeanors DWI cases. Kevin Bennett is experienced in handling both felony and misdemeanor DWI cases in Travis County, TX.

DWI Defense Lawyer in Austin, TX

If you have been arrested in Austin, Pflugerville, Lakeway, or the surrounding areas, The Law Office of Kevin Bennett is equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to defend you. Kevin Bennett is a dedicated DUI attorney in Travis County who will work around the clock to ensure that you are put in a position to receive the most favorable outcome possible.

Kevin Bennett will take your case to trial if necessary to fight against your conviction and will always uphold your most favorable interests. He specifically limits the number of cases that he takes so every client can be assured he or she will receive the highest level of personal attention.

When representing you, Kevin Bennett believes in being completely transparent so that you are aware of each and every detail surrounding your case. Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 to set up your free consultation.

Information Center for DWI in Texas

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Texas Penal Code § 49.04: Driving While Intoxicated

According to Texas Penal Code § 49.04, an individual is guilty of DWI if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a public place, while intoxicated. In Texas, an individual is considered intoxicated if he or she no longer has normal control over his or her mental or physical faculties, due to the consumption of drugs and/or alcohol (Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 49.01).

An individual can also be considered intoxicated if a chemical test shows that their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher. If an individual’s BAC is measured above the legal limit, he or she will automatically be arrested, regardless of their ability to demonstrate normal control over their mental or physical faculties.   

Austin Police and Texas highway patrol officers may use chemical tests, including breath tests, blood tests and field sobriety tests to determine whether you have an excessive BAC. It is your right to refuse a DUI test, unless police obtain a warrant.

However, when you refuse a test, your license is suspended. You are entitled to an administrative license revocation hearing, where you may contest the suspension along with your legal counsel, if you request it quickly enough.

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Proving Actual Physical Control in Austin DWI Cases

In order to be charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas, the prosecution must be able to show that the defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of the offense. This is easily provable in cases where an officer actually saw the defendant driving the vehicle before he or she conducted a traffic stop.

It is important to note that you don’t actually have to be driving the vehicle in order to have actual physical control over it. Common factors used to determine actual physical control in Texas include:

  • Has the vehicle been recently driven, is it drivable?
  • Where the defendant was in relation to the vehicle (in or on the vehicle)
  • Whether or not the defendant was in the driver’s seat
  • Were the keys in the ignition, or otherwise in the defendant’s possession?

Although individuals can be charged even if they were not actively driving the vehicle, proving actual physical control tends to be difficult. With the help of an experienced DWI lawyer in Austin, you may be able to successfully argue that you were not in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time you were charged with the offense.

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Punishments for Convictions of DWI in Travis County

The penalties for a drunk driving conviction depend largely upon the circumstances surrounding the case, as well as whether or not the defendant has any prior DWI convictions. These penalties are as follows:

First DWI Conviction

First-time DUI offenders will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor and can be sentenced to between 72 hours and 180 days in jail, and/or ordered to pay a fine of up to $2,000. Individuals who are convicted of this offense can also lose their driving privileges for up to a year. A first time conviction also carries annual surcharges ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years.

1st Conviction with BAC .15 or Greater

The charges for a first offense can be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor if a chemical test showed the defendant’s blood alcohol content level was 0.15 or higher, which carries roughly the same penalties as a conviction for a second DWI.

Second DWI Conviction

As a class A misdemeanor, this offense could result in between 30 days to a year in jail, the loss of driving privileges for up to two years, and/or a fine of up to $4,000. A second DWI conviction also carries annual surcharges of ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 a year for three years.

Third DWI Conviction

A third drunk driving offense, or any DUI-related offense after your second, is considered a third degree felony, and is punishable by between two and 10 years in prison, the loss of driving privileges for up to two years, and/or up to a $10,000 fine. Annual surcharges can range up to $2,000 per year for three years.

Other related penalties can include probation, community supervision, community service, ignition interlock devices, drug and alcohol education courses, DWI school, annual surcharges and additional court fees and fines. 

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Texas DWI Surcharges 

In addition to the criminal penalties you face if convicted of DWI, the State of Texas will assess a mandatory annual surcharge fee to be paid to the Texas Department of Public Safety. This administrative fee is paid for a period of three years as a condition of maintaining your driver’s license. Failure to pay the surcharges or enter into a payment agreement will result in the automatic suspension of your license until all payments are made.

The surcharges associated with a DWI conviction depend on whether this is your first DWI, second DWI or any subsequent DWI, or whether you are shown to have had a blood alcohol concentration of .16 or higher.

The Texas DWI surcharges, to be paid to the Texas Department of Public Safety, are as follows:

  • Driving While Intoxicated First Offense  — $1,000 annual surcharge  ($3,000 total)
  • Driving While Intoxicated Second or More — $1,500 annual surcharge ($4,500 total)
  • DWI with Blood Alcohol Concentration of .16 or more— $2,000 annual surcharge  ($6,000 total)

Additional Resources

DWI Attorneys in Austin, TX - Visit the Lawyer Legion website to find a list of the best DWI attorneys in Austin, TX. Learn more about their qualifications and experience in fighting drunk driving cases and DWI cases involved impairment from chemical or controlled substances.

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Finding the Best Austin DWI Lawyer for Your Case

Contact Kevin Bennett today to discuss the circumstances surrounding your DUI charges in Travis County, Pflugerville, Lago Vista, Lakeway and the surrounding areas. As a qualified criminal defense attorney, Kevin Bennett will thoroughly review the facts surrounding your case, and use his knowledge of Texas DWI law and criminal legal procedure to weaken the prosecution’s case.

Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 if you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Your initial consultation is free, and it will begin the process of defending your freedom and protecting your driving privileges.

 This article was last updated on Friday, September 15, 2017.