Drunk driving is a serious offense. But you may not be clear about what exactly constitutes drunk driving – or “driving while intoxicated,” as it’s called in the Texas Penal Code – and how you can avoid or defend yourself against a DWI charge. Here is a brief guide to understanding the law in Texas.
What Constitutes “Intoxication”?
The minute you consume any alcoholic beverage, your mental or physical faculties are affected. The precise effect of alcohol on your body depends on many factors, including your weight, sex, and whether you have recently eaten. So, for example, one beer taken with dinner is likely to have less of an intoxicating effect on you than three shots of whiskey consumed without eating.
For purposes of determining whether someone is too intoxicated to drive, the law sets a standard based on “alcohol concentration.” This can be measured by in one of three ways: A breathalyzer, a blood test, or a urine sample. Regardless of how it is measured, if the alcohol concentration is at or above 0.8 percent, you are considered legally intoxicated. If you are found operating a motor vehicle while legally intoxicated, you can be charged with DWI.
Keep in mind, you may still face a DWI charge even if your alcohol concentration is below 0.08 percent. That is simply one test for a DWI. A police officer may also arrest you for DWI if there is any evidence you are driving while “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol” or another controlled substance. This means, for instance, if an officer observes you driving erratically, pulls you over, and smells alcohol on your breath, he can arrest you for DWI even if you “pass” a breathalyzer or blood test.
Can I Refuse a Blood or Breath Test?
If you have been stopped on suspicion of DWI, you might think you can avoid arrest if you simply refuse to submit to a blood or breath test. Unfortunately, Texas is an “implied consent” state.
This means that once an officer arrests you on suspicion of DWI, “the person is deemed to have consented” to a blood or breath test for purposes of determining if you are legally intoxicated.
While the police generally cannot force you to take a blood or breath test against your will, if you refuse you face an automatic suspension of your driver’s license under the implied consent law.
In addition, a prosecutor can use your refusal as evidence to prove you were intoxicated – i.e., you refused to take the test because you knew your alcohol concentration would likely exceed the 0.08 percent limit. This means you can still be convicted of a DWI.
Arrested for DWI in Houston?
Call Our Law Office for Help!
If you are facing a DWI charge, you need to seek out competent legal advice from an experienced Texas DWI lawyer. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today if you need to speak with an attorney about your situation.