When you face a DWI charge in Texas, you are likely to receive severe penalties that include a permanent criminal record and high fines. Additionally, facing DWI charges can negatively affect your life years after trial and conviction. Typically, potential employers or school admission staff will form an unfavorable first impression if you have a DWI record. Thus, you should consider seeking a charge reduction or dismissal after arrest for a DWI. Working with an experienced DWI attorney who can negotiate with the prosecutor handling your case for the best deal is advisable.
At Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer, we understand the nature of facing DWI charges, and the potential consequences you could face. As a result, we dedicate our skills to delivering excellent legal defense services to clients facing DWI charges in Fort Worth, Texas. Moreover, our capable team of attorneys can negotiate for a charge reduction or dismissal on your behalf to reduce the severity of your case. In doing so, you will not have to face a full criminal trial. Instead, you will benefit from the lesser charges and have a chance to return to your normal life.
Understanding the Nature of DWIs and Charge Reductions
Among the numerous criminal offenses that you may face in Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is commonly reported. The crime involves operating a vehicle while having consumed alcohol beyond the standard limit.
Usually, traffic officers will identify potential lawbreakers on the highway by setting up DWI checkpoints and measuring your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level. The statutory BAC limit is 0.08%, so any motorist who surpasses it may face arrest and possible trial. On top of being apprehended, violating regulations against a DWI attracts serious penalties, even as a first-time offender.
For example, when convicted for a first offense, the judge may impose a fine of up to $2000. Alternatively, he or she may also impose a jail sentence that lasts for a maximum of six months in county jail, and a license suspension for up to one year. Offenders may also suffer the recurrent effects of their convictions by having to pay specific fees to help them keep their licenses. Mostly, the fees range between $1000 to $3000, depending on the circumstances of the DWI case.
Second-time DWI offenders face even harsher penalties, as they may have to pay a fine of up to $4000. Moreover, they will have their license suspended for a maximum of two years, causing a lot of transportation inconveniences. Some defendants may also end up in county jail for up to one year after the judge finds them guilty of the DWI offense.
Third and subsequent offenders should also prepare to face harsh sentences, including a $10,000 maximum fine, or up to ten years in state prison for multiple DWI offenses.
Based on the serious nature of these DWI penalties, opting for a charge reduction or dismissal may help your case significantly. The most important step to take when considering a charge reduction is approaching a DWI defense lawyer who can explain the advantages and disadvantages of the option.
How Charge Reductions and Dismissals Help Your Case
After meeting with your DWI defense attorney, he/she will explain how the charge reductions operate. The state of Texas works under a system that allows for charge reductions in specific offenses, giving you access to a fairer judicial process.
Usually, the main outcome of choosing to request a charge reduction is facing more lenient outcomes for your offense. Therefore, you should not expect a full acquittal, especially because the prosecutor will already have sufficient proof against you.
On top of this, you should note that seeking a charge reduction will save you from proceeding to a criminal trial for the DWI charge. Nevertheless, you may still be arraigned in court to answer to the lesser charges that the prosecutor enters against you.
When your DWI defense attorney meets with the prosecutor for negotiations regarding your charges, you can expect several outcomes, based on a plea bargain. This agreement can be presented by the prosecutor or requested by your lawyer before the trial begins, to help reduce your criminal charges.
If you accept the terms of the bargain, the prosecutor discards your original DWI offense charges and settles for the new lesser charges agreed upon. In exchange, you will have to plead guilty to the reduced offenses and face more lenient outcomes.
The three possible outcomes of a plea bargain negotiation with the prosecutor are:
- a lower sentence for your offense
- a less serious charge compared to a DWI offense
- alternative sentencing that excludes confinement
While the plea bargain deals may seem convenient as the last resort, we advise our clients to think through their decisions before accepting the agreement. This is primarily because most offenses will still appear in your criminal record despite them being from a charge reduction.
Nevertheless, a plea bargain is advantageous where the prosecutor has overwhelming evidence against you, meaning that his/her case is likely to succeed. You can use the available options in your charge reduction or dismissal agreement to evade the severe DWI sentences. The option is especially helpful for repeat offenders who risk facing ten years or a $10,000 fine under DWI penalties.
Elements Considered Before the Prosecutor Grant's a DWI Reduction/Dismissal
Since taking the DWI plea bargain works to your advantage, the prosecutor must be convinced that your case is eligible. He/she will go through several factors that may prove you deserve the reduced charges. On top of this, the factors may reveal whether the circumstances of your case involved any aggravating factors that could jeopardize the charge reduction agreement.
Doubtless, if your DWI offense included one or more aggravating factors, you need to note that you may have a harder time convincing the prosecutor to grant you the relief. Nevertheless, your defense lawyer can work out a compromise and still secure the charge reduction or dismissal. The main elements considered before granting a plea bargain are:
Refusal or Cooperation in Taking Blood/Chemical Tests
After police arrest you for a suspected DWI offense, they will transport you to the station where they administer chemical tests to collect evidence against you. However, some arrested suspects will refuse to undertake the tests in fear of giving the police too many sources of proof against them.
While the officers cannot force you to take chemical tests, you should note that refusal to cooperate with their requests worsens your case. Often, when you decline from taking a blood or chemical test, you give the prosecution a source of proof for implied knowledge of guilt. The prosecutor may interpret your decision against your favor, leading to lower chances of benefiting from a charge reduction.
On the other hand, complying with the arresting officers' requests could improve your chances of getting a good bargain deal. They will ask to provide breath or blood samples for BAC chemical tests carried out by experts. Essentially, the samples will produce the exact levels of intoxication your body was subjected to.
Therefore, if the test results show that your alcohol levels were below the 0.08% limit, the prosecutor should reduce or dismiss the charges. If your attorney is successful in granting you the charge reduction, your legal consequences become more bearable.
Exceeding the BAC Level Limit
Moreover, you should remember that your DWI case may include aggravating factors that worsen it depending on whether you surpassed the set BAC level. Your alcohol levels should be at or below the 0.08% mark to be on the safe side.
However, most arrests will be forwarded to the prosecutor upon establishing that you surpassed the BAC limit. Hence, the prosecutor is aware of your violation of the BAC limit and could use the details against you. Your attorney will therefore have to prepare a good strategy when negotiating with the prosecutor. This is because exceeding the alcohol concentration level by a large margin indicates excessive drinking.
In turn, the presence of high alcohol amounts in your system may be proof of your intention to disregard the law entirely. If the prosecutor becomes adamant to proceed with a trial for your DWI case, you may have limited chances of obtaining a charge reduction.
Whether you Remained Respectful Before and During Arrest
Some arrested persons may feel entitled to express their anger or non-compliance towards the arresting officers. Despite this, acting negatively towards traffic officers may be detrimental to your case. Naturally, law enforcement officers expect motorists to show respect despite being stopped at the DWI checkpoints. The level of respect and cooperation extends to answering non-incriminating questions asked by the police and refraining from using abusive language.
However, you still retain your right to decline from participating in any requests that would incriminate you, including answering leading questions. If officers insist that you must follow their directives, we recommend getting in touch with your attorney as soon as possible and explaining the ongoing unfair treatment. The details you provide may come in handy in raising complaints later on.
Traffic officers may also incorporate footage from the various DWI stops to store as evidence if your matter goes to trial. Consequently, it may be difficult to deny accusations of having acted in a rowdy and rude manner towards the police. Despite this, you can also refer to the footage they collect when attempting to prove that the officers provided false information about your behavior.
Possible Subsequent Injuries or Fatalities from your DWI
Many accidents arise because of a driver’s recklessness when driving under the influence. As a result, the blame on him/her for any fatalities or injury. The risks are higher because the driver’s mental and physical capabilities are compromised while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Thus, the prosecutor will be keen to verify whether you caused any serious road accidents because of drunk driving.
Retrieving the records from your DWI case is easy for the prosecutor. Ease of access is possible because any serious road incidents will prompt the complainants to file a case with the local district attorney. Subsequently, the prosecutor may refer to your DWI causing fatalities or severe injuries and treat it as an aggravating factor.
Your DWI defense attorney should anticipate the prosecutor’s scrutiny in the accident you caused and establish sharp points in your defense to succeed in the negotiations. You can help in the process by giving all relevant details that you remember before and after the car accident. In doing so, your attorney may identify several argument points to help the prosecutor reach an agreement for your charge reduction.
Whether you are a First-Time DWI Offender
Another crucial factor for the prosecutor to consider is whether you are a first-time or repeat offender. The number of previous DWI charges you have faced will determine whether your case will fall under the category of the aggravated offense. Therefore, an arrested person who has not faced previous DWI charges can expect more lenient considerations from the prosecutor.
Conversely, the situation may be more difficult if you have faced two, three, or multiple previous convictions from driving while intoxicated. Your criminal records will be available for reference from the department of justice, so the prosecutor will have information on your past criminal record. While repeat offenders are not a top priority in receiving charge reductions and dismissals, your DWI defense lawyer can convince the prosecutor to grant the agreement. he/she may be successful in negotiations where you can prove that your arrest was unlawful or unfair.
Police Misconduct During and After Arrest
Sometimes, the accusations you face may be based on police misconduct aimed at presenting false accusations against you. If this is the case, you can raise the issue to the prosecutor’s attention as soon as possible to guide him/her in dismissing your charges. The prosecutor should comply with a charge dismissal if sufficient proof of misconduct is present because the malpractices would render the arrest process illegal.
Hence, you stand a good chance of having DWI charges dropped if the police involved in your arrest apprehended you without probable cause. In any criminal arrest, the police should justify their decision to apprehend a suspect based on the probable cause formed from their observations. For example, they may decide to arrest you after you fail a preliminary alcohol screening test. The reason for apprehension is that the test often reveals whether a suspect has consumed alcohol.
In the absence of reasonable probable cause, the police may force you to make confessions of driving while intoxicated to collect self-incriminating evidence. This method violates your right to remain silent, so you can raise a complaint against the responsible officers.
Alternatively, the officers may ask leading questions that inevitably place the blame on you for a DWI offense. Similar to forcing you to confess, asking leading questions may amount to police misconduct that could translate to the dismissal of charges.
You should also remember that some officers may have ulterior motives against you. Consequently, they may resort to extreme measures like changing your BAC test results to a very high reading, hoping that you will face severe penalties.
If you and your defense attorney can find sufficient proof of the unlawful tampering with evidence, you can report the matter before the trial begins. The prosecutor can then follow up on it and determine whether it would be best to dismiss your DWI charges.
The Strength of the Prosecutor's Case
The prosecutor must also consider the strength of the DWI case against you should he/she decide to proceed to trial. A good analysis will involve checking for the validity of evidential sources to be used against you. Moreover, the prosecutor must determine whether your case satisfied all the elements of a DWI offense.
Thus, if the prosecutor finds that the case would have some inconsistencies or errors at the trial stage, he/she may be more open to a plea bargain. This way, the prosecutor does not have to worry about losing the case. On the other hand, you will receive more lenient sentences, or lesser charges, depending on the settlement.
However, you may have a harder time securing a plea bargain deal if the prosecutor is confident in his/her case. The occurrence is especially common if sufficient evidence of your DWI violation is available, and if you are a repeat offender. In these circumstances, your DWI defense attorney may have a difficult time securing a charge reduction. Nevertheless, the chance is still available if your attorney can work out a persuasive strategy.
The Outcomes of Receiving a DWI Charge Reduction & Dismissal
If your lawyer is successful in obtaining a DWI charge reduction for you, the prosecutor may settle for lesser alternate charges. They include:
Obstruction of a Highway or Passageway
Obstructing a highway or passageway is a criminal offense prohibited under the Texas Penal Code, section 42.03. You will be answerable for the crime intentionally or recklessly causing congestion on the road.
Hence, facing obstruction charges may be a suitable alternative to driving while intoxicated if you stopped your car at an unauthorized area on the road. Essentially, stopping the vehicle unexpectedly should be related to your intoxication.
If the prosecutor proceeds with obstruction as the charge in the trial, you may face a jail penalty of up to six months, or pay a fine of $2,000.
Another possible reduced charge is public intoxication contrary to section 49.02 of the Penal Code. Under the statutory provision, you are liable for the crime by being in a public place while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and exposing yourself/others to danger.
The standard measure of intoxication is similar to the one applied in DWI charges at 0.08%. Therefore, public intoxication is an ideal lesser charge if you did not cause any accidents from drunk driving, but potentially exposed road users to danger.
If you are a first-time DWI offender, the alternative charge will be a significant relief from DWI penalties. You will only have to pay a maximum fine of $500 or spend eight to twelve hours in community service. Nevertheless, you may also have your license suspended for up to thirty days and will attend mandatory alcohol programs.
You can also face penalties for reckless driving instead of a DWI charge, as it covers a wide range of dangerous driving practices. They include braking abruptly, engaging in excessive speed, or street racing in unauthorized areas. If the prosecutor enters reckless driving as your charge, you will pay fines of up to $200, or spend a maximum of thirty days in jail.
Overall, facing these charges instead of DWI-related ones can change your situation dramatically. You may evade confinement in jail or state prison for a long time, and pay fewer fines than anticipated. Therefore, you want to get in touch with a DWI defense attorney as soon as possible to obtain the necessary legal support.
Contact a DWI Defense Attorney Near Me
Learning when to make the most of charge reduction or dismissal agreements can protect you from facing extreme consequences for your DWI offense. However, you may find that undertaking the plea bargain negotiations by yourself is quite challenging. This is because the prosecutor will have piled a lot of evidence against you, and maybe relentless in taking your matter to trial. Hence, you need the help of an experienced DWI attorney to take over the negotiations and get you the best charge reductions possible. Moreover, a diligent lawyer will conduct his/her research thoroughly and provide you with useful information throughout the process.
If you require DWI defense services in Fort Worth, your best option is the Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer. We are happy to take on your matter and engage in the best legal negotiation strategies with the prosecutor to reduce your DWI charges. Additionally, you can rely on us for truthful information and advice concerning your arrest and charges to help you make sound decisions. Call us today at 817-470-2128.