An effective DWI defense starts with an in-depth client interview. At Boswell Legal Group, P.C., you can expect to discuss the following matters in detail:
THE FACTS OF THE CASE
It is important to discuss what happened prior to, during, and after an arrest in great detail. The police must have “reasonable suspicion” to stop a motor vehicle. This may include traffic violations like speeding and failing to signal lane change or turn. Police also regularly stop cars for “weaving” or other seemingly unusual driving patterns. An illegal stop can result in illegally obtained evidence that should be excluded from consideration by a judge or jury.
Law enforcement form their opinions of whether someone is intoxicated or not by administering Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. (SFSTs) These tests typically include the Walk and Turn test, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (commonly called the “eye test”), and the One Leg Stand test. While these three tests are considered to be the standardized tests the Department of Public Safety endorses as proper to determine intoxication, many times officers do not administer the tests correctly leading to incorrect assessments of intoxication. The conditions under which tests are administered can also alter the results. Weather conditions, traffic conditions, the arrested person’s medical conditions or weight, etc. are just a few of these factors.
Some of the SFST’s are considered by DPS to be divided attention tasks. These tests supposedly mimic tasks you have to perform while driving the car. The SFSTs must be administered in a very specific way. Many times officers do not explain and/or demonstrate the tests correctly which, of course, makes the tests even MORE unfair. The SFSTs are also scored by the administrating officer who will conclude that a person failed if based on a certain number of clues observed.
THE PUNISHMENT RANGE
You must understand the applicable punishment range for any charge!
DWI, first offense, is punishable by up to 180 days in jail an up to a $2000.00 fine (Class B misdemeanor). This does not mean first time offenders have to go to jail if they are convicted. Probation is generally available, but jail time is a possibility, depending on the severity of the case or the criminal history of the person charged. If the State alleges (via scientific test) that the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.15 or higher on a DWI 1st, that DWI becomes punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, subject to the same range as a DWI 2nd. A higher BAC can also result in additional consequences.
DWI 2nd, is punishable by up to 365 days in jail and a $4000.00 fine (Class A misdemeanor). Because the person charged has been convicted on a prior DWI, current laws require that person to serve some time in jail as a condition of probation. Often time probationary periods are longer, the fines are higher, and the probation is generally more “intense”.
A 3rd DWI arrest (following two previous DWI convictions) results in a person being charged with a 3rd Degree Felony. That punishment range is from 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000.00 fine. This punishment range can also be enhanced to a 2nd degree felony (2 to 20 years, $10,000 fine), a 1st degree felony (5-99 years, $10,000 fine), or even 25 years to life in prison depending on the number of other felony convictions a person may have.
Other felony DWI offenses include Intoxication Assault, Intoxication Manslaughter, and Driving While Intoxicated with a Child in the Car (under 15 years of age).
THE ISSUE OF YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE
We will discuss in depth the many possible scenarios relating to the temporary suspension of your driver’s license and how to best avoid or minimize the hassle and stress that results from that suspension. If we cannot prevent the suspension, we will work to streamline the process and help you obtain and an occupational driver’s license (if you qualify) so that you may continue to drive.
There are simply too many scenarios to cover in an overview like this, but be assured we will ask detailed questions in order to discover what the possible ramifications are for your situation. We will also discuss other “collateral consequences” that may result from a DWI arrest or DL suspension.
It’s important to keep in mind that you only have 15 days after being charged with a DWI in Denton Country to request a hearing concerning the suspension of your driver license. This is not part of the criminal proceedings against you, but is a separate civil administrative process known as an Administrative License Revocation (ALR). We will work with you to help you request an ALR if your case warrants it, but you need to enlist our services as quickly as possible to ensure the deadline for this request does not pass.
THE GAME PLAN
If you’ve been charged with a DWI, it will typically take a month or two for you to have a court date set. This means you have a little, but not much, time. You will receive a letter first alerting you to the date of your court case. Because your time is limited and because your court date is unknown, it is in your best interest to retain our services as soon as you know you are being charged with a DWI or DUI.
Once retained, our office notifies the appropriate court and clerk that we have been so we will receive notice of any court appearances. We always inform our clients of any court settings at which they must to appear. Often times we can execute a document that allows us to appear for our clients at many of these settings.
We request discovery from the State of Texas. The discovery includes the police report(s), witness statements, the impound sheet, the probable cause affidavit, test results and other documents which the police create in building the case against a person. The discovery usually includes media recording the stop and everything that happens during the arrest. The State is required to turn over discovery to us in Texas under the Michael Morton Act of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The State must also turn over any evidence that would tend to mitigate guilt (such as a blood or breath test that was below the legal limit or contradictory witness statements).
Joe Boswell personally and thoroughly reviews all discovery and evaluates the case based using his extensive experience and knowledge. Next, we discuss strategies and defenses so that our clients can decide whether to elect to have a jury trial or accept a plea offer (if the case cannot be reduced or dismissed). Joe will zealously and vigorously represent you in order to get the best possible outcome with the given facts — whether that is at a trial or through negotiations with the prosecutor(s) assigned to the case.