DWI Reduction and Dismissal in Texas
In Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI), also known as driving under the influence (DUI) or drunk driving, is a serious criminal charge that can have far-reaching legal, financial, and personal implications.
However, DWI charges do not always result in convictions. A conviction for DWI sometimes can be avoided due to missteps by the police or prosecutor, through a plea bargain that reduces the DWI charge to a lesser charge or with an outright dismissal of the charge.
Texas law deals harshly with anyone convicted of DWI, whether the offense is driving under the influence of alcohol or driving under the influence of drugs. A DWI conviction can have numerous consequences, including:
- A permanent criminal record;
- Jail time;
- Fines and fees;
- Probation and probation fees;
- Community service requirements;
- Drug or alcohol testing;
- Mandatory DWI education classes and attendance at a victim impact panel;
- Loss or restriction of driver’s license;
- Installation of an vehicular ignition interlock device and fees;
- Hefty surcharges levied by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
- Higher insurance rates; and
- Strained personal relationships.
Anyone accused of DWI, DUI or drunk driving in Austin, Texas or Travis County should consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. A qualified lawyer may be able to find inconsistencies or weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to introduce reasonable doubt, which could lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges.
Austin Lawyer for Reduction and Dismissal of DWI Charges
The Law Office of Kevin Bennett is equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to defend people charged with DWI in Austin, Texas. Kevin Bennett is a dedicated DUI attorney in Travis County who will work around the clock to achieve the most favorable outcome possible, which can often mean avoiding a trial and negotiating a reduction of a DWI charge or a dismissal of a DWI charge.
The Law Office of Kevin Bennett will take a DWI case to trial if necessary to fight against a conviction and will always uphold the most favorable interests of its clients. When representing you, Kevin Bennett believes in being completely transparent so that you are aware of every single detail pertaining to your case.
Our Austin attorney limits his caseload specifically so he can devote the personal attention his clients deserve. Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 to schedule your free initial consultation.
Overview of Reduced and Dismissed DWI Charges
- Why might drunk driving charges be thrown out?
- What questions will a lawyer seek answers to in a DWI case?
- How often are drunk driving charges reduced or dismissed?
- Does a high BAC make it harder to get DWI charges reduced or dismissed?
- Can underage DWI be reduced?
- What are some examples of reduced or dismissed DWI charges?
- How does reducing my DWI charge to Obstruction of a Highway or Passageway beneficial?
- Where can I learn more about these issues?
Every DWI case is different with its own unique set of circumstances. Sometimes the police deviate from proper procedures or make mistakes during a traffic stop.
In some cases, field sobriety tests or breath tests are conducted improperly. In other cases, evidence or witnesses may disappear or be compromised, procedural errors may occur, or other issues may be in dispute.
In a DWI case, there are several different versions of what actually happened: the story according to the person accused, the story according to the police, the story told by any witnesses, the story told by any video or audio recordings, and the story told by the results and recordings of breath tests, if any were conducted.
A good DWI defense attorney will scrutinize all of the legal and factual issues to look for mistakes or inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case that could formulate reasonable doubt about guilt.
Sometimes, the mistakes made by the state result in a complete dismissal of all charges, but any weakening of the prosecution’s case could lead to a reduction of charges. One common reduced charge in a DWI case is “obstruction of a passageway,” which imposes fewer legal restrictions and fines on the offender than a DWI conviction.
During a thorough examination of the facts of a DWI case, a defense attorney may raise a number of questions about the integrity of the traffic stop, the determination of sobriety vs. non-sobriety, and the arrest. A few of the questions a DWI defense attorney may ask include, but are not limited to:
- Did police have reasonable suspicion of the commission of a crime before the traffic stop occurred?
- Were field sobriety tests conducted properly?
- What were the specific results of field sobriety tests?
- Is there a video or audio recording of the traffic stop and/or field sobriety tests?
- Did anyone else witness the traffic stop or the arrest?
- What evidence was collected at the scene?
- Did police issue a proper Miranda warning upon arrest?
- What, if anything, did the person arrested say to police?
- Was the breath test machine properly tested and calibrated?
- Was the operator of the breath test machine certified to conduct the breath test?
- What were the specific results of the breath test?
- Is there a video or audio recording of the breath test?
- How much time elapsed between the traffic stop and the breath test?
Any mistakes or procedural errors identified by a DWI defense attorney could damage the prosecution’s case, making it more likely that the state may offer a plea bargain for a charge less than DWI. If major mistakes or errors occurred, a complete dismissal of the case becomes a possibility.
Prosecutors are often reluctant to reduce charges in DWI cases. They are also wary of taking anything less than a solid case to trial because they not only hate to lose, but also their performance is often graded on their conviction rates.
Austin’s KVUE-TV reported in 2014 that records provided by the Travis County Attorney’s office showed 37 percent of all first- time DWI cases were re-filed as other charges, received deferred prosecution or were dismissed .
An experienced DWI lawyer will know the history of a particular court and the judges in it and use that knowledge in pursuit of the best possible outcome in a drunk driving case, including making a decision with the accused person whether or not to take the case to trial.
It is important to note that the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC), if measured, and the number of previous DWI convictions, if any, often affect the state’s willingness to reduce any new DWI charges.
In Texas, if a person charged with DWI registers a BAC of more than 0.15 (almost twice the legal limit of 0.08), he or she faces enhanced penalties, including higher fines and more time in jail.
A previous conviction for DWI also presents a more difficult challenge because a judge may consider it in during sentencing after a new conviction.
Anyone charged with DWI with a high BAC or previously convicted of DWI and facing a new DWI charge should immediately consult with a qualified attorney to discuss his or her situation.
Per Texas Alcohol Beverage Code Ann. § 106.041, it is illegal for a driver under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle while he or she is intoxicated or impaired due to the consumption of drugs and/or alcohol. In other words, the zero-tolerance law indicates that there is no legal limit to the amount of alcohol that can be found in a minor’s system. If the driver is underage and intoxicated, then he or she can be arrested and charged with underage DWI.
If you or a loved one was charged with underage DWI, having legal representation can help you have your charges reduced. Your attorney can convince the court to allow the defendant to participate in a diversion program. The program requires the defendant to take mandatory alcohol awareness and safety courses.
Common Reduced or Dismissed DWI Charges
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), a person is injured or killed every twenty (20) minutes by a drunk driver. In 2019, the highest age group of drunk drivers in fatal crashes were ages ranging from 21 to 25 (See DUI Drivers in Fatal Crashes by Driver Age). In order to reduce drunk driving (DWI) related deaths, legislators have passed firm laws. Nevertheless, if you are facing a DWI charge, there may be options to help reduce or dismiss your charges. A DWI conviction can be life changing, an experienced DWI defense attorney can review the facts surrounding your case and properly advise you with the best defense.
Below are some common examples of reduced or dismissed DWI charges:
- Reducing a DWI charge to Reckless Driving
- Reducing a Felony DWI to a misdemeanor such as Obstruction of a highway or passageway
- Having a case dismissed by challenging the field sobriety test results
- Reducing an underage DWI charge to deferred adjudication
Reducing a DWI Charge to Obstruction of Highway or Passageway
At times the prosecutors may offer a plea deal to a defendant to lesser the charge of their DWI offense to Obstruction of Highway or Passageway. Below are some of the benefits of having your charges reduced to obstruction of highway or passageway:
- An Obstruction of Highway or Passageway is a misdemeanor charge
- Obstruction of Highway or Passageway can be expunged from your criminal record
- A DWI conviction stays in your DPS record and an Obstruction of Highway or Passage does not
- Obstruction of Highway or Passageway is eligible for Deferred Adjudication
- There is no license suspension
- An Obstruction of Highway or Passageway is viewed as a traffic offense rather than an intoxicated-related crime by the general public
Texas Penal Code — Title 10, Section 49 of the Texas Penal Code enumerates the laws related to intoxication and alcoholic beverages, including the state’s DWI laws under Section 49.04.
Travis County Courts — Travis County courts handle all types of criminal cases. The county courts web site contains tools to search court dockets and find self-help information related to DWI cases and provides links to other legal information.509 West 11th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Find an Attorney for DWI Reduction and Dismissal in Austin, Texas
If you are accused of DWI in the greater Austin area, you should contact a qualified criminal defense attorney right away to schedule a consultation. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett represents clients in Austin, Pflugerville, Lago Vista, Lakeway, and the surrounding areas of Travis County.
Kevin Bennett is a lawyer experienced in defending people accused of DWI, DUI, or drunk driving. He 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 and attempt to obtain a DWI reduction or dismissal.
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.