Driving while intoxicated in Texas is a serious offense. You are most likely to be arrested and charged if you are arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more. Should you face a DWI conviction, you suffer severe legal penalties like a jail sentence, probation, or even suspension of your driving license.
If you are arrested and charged with DWI in Texas, there are several defenses you could explore for your case. Sometimes the prosecutor allows you to enter a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser sentence. You negotiate a plea deal where you plead guilty to a less severe offense while waiving your right to go to trial for DWI.
When you face charges for driving while intoxicated, you should never plead guilty to any form of the crime without consulting with your lawyer. At the Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer, we offer legal guidance and represent clients facing DWI charges in Fort Worth, Texas. Contact us for the best outcome for your DWI case.
Overview of DWI Plea Negotiation in Texas
If you face an arrest for driving while intoxicated in Texas, your situation could go downhill very fast. A driver who operates a motor vehicle while drunk puts their life and lives of other road users at risk. You will face DWI charges if your BAC content exceeds the legal limit or your conduct is generally influenced by alcohol.
DWI is handled differently from other criminal cases, especially when the defendant does not have a prior criminal record. When a DWI case is brought in Texas, it can be completed in any of the following ways:
Dismissal of the Case
In Texas, it is not typical for a DWI case to be dismissed. However, in cases where police officers collect false evidence, or when the prosecutor’s evidence is not strong, your case could be dropped. Some of the false evidence that could prompt a case dismissal may include incorrect breath or blood alcohol content results. With the help of your DWI defense lawyer, you can dispute the evidence brought against you for a possible case dismissal.
Reduction of your Charges
If the DWI case against you is weak and the prosecutor foresees losing the case, they could offer you a lesser charge. However, most of the reduced charges have a less negative impact on your record and possibly lesser penalties after a conviction. Before you accept any deal from the prosecutor, it is crucial to discuss your lawyer's matter.
Should you agree to waive your rights to a jury trial, you can reach a plea bargain with the prosecutor. This allows you to plead guilty and be convicted for a lesser offense compared to DWI. Texas's plea deal has to be agreed upon between you, your lawyer, and the prosecutor. However, accepting a plea deal is not always best for you. You need to ensure that each situation you enter is in your best interests.
If you are arrested for Driving while intoxicated in Texas, your case could end up in a criminal trial. If you can present a strong defense that convinces the jury that you are not guilty of the offense, you could be acquitted. However, the prosecutor will try to have you face a conviction by proving beyond a reasonable doubt all the crime elements.
If the prosecutor presents blood alcohol content results indicating that you exceeded the legal limit, it will be challenging to secure an acquittal. When there is too much evidence against you in the DWI case, accepting a plea deal could be more sensible compared to taking the case to trial.
Understanding Plea Negotiations
With plea negotiations, both the prosecution and defense compromise. Even though you are innocent until proven guilty, you can enter a guilty plea in the criminal case in exchange for lower charges. Some of the concerns that come from plea negotiations include:
- Facts Bargaining. You can negotiate your case's facts with the prosecutor to develop a favorable outcome in your case. Some case facts that could be up for negotiations in your DWI case are how your chemical tests were taken and your conduct during the arrest.
- Changes in the DWI charge. A charge reduction occurs when a prosecutor lowers your DWI charge. In this case, you will plead guilty to the alternative charge, and your DWI charges will be dismissed.
- A lower sentence Proposal. Sentence reduction plea bargains happen when you plead guilty to the DWI charges in exchange for a minimum sentence rather than a severe sentence arising from the trial. Sentence reductions may not be as preferable as the charge reduction. The decision to accept a sentence reduction lies with you after you understand the facts of your case.
If you decide to accept a plea deal for driving while intoxicated as a way of pleading guilty, you allow the State to make a final decision in your case. The main aim of plea negotiations in a DWI case is to place you in a better position to face lesser charges or suffer minor consequences for your case.
However, just because another person receive a plea bargain and it was beneficial does not mean it will be an option for you. One of the problems with plea bargains is their coercive nature. When prosecutors realize that you have a strong defense and they may not be able to convict you, they may attempt to coerce you into a lousy deal with punitive measures like:
- Pretrial detention will separate you from your job or family as you await trial. No one wants to spend time in jail while waiting for trial. Therefore, a prosecutor could use this to impose a bad plea deal on you. It is crucial to understand that you can post bail for your DWI arrest as you await trial. Before you accept a plea deal, you need to consult with your lawyer.
- Lax discovery rules. Sometimes a prosecutor could conceal evidence that is beneficial to your case during negotiations. This could lead you to believe that you do not have a strong defense and the plea deal offered is the best option for your situation.
- A prosecutor can try to coerce you into entering a plea deal that is not beneficial by threatening you with sentence enhancements or minimum sentences. When you are facing DWI charges, you could be nervous and scared. Therefore, your attorney can help you assess the deal to ensure it is in your best interests.
- Zero requirements of transparency from prosecution could take away your ability to scrutinize the plea deal before accepting. Sometimes, a prosecutor could give you a limited time to decide on a deal.
Even though plea deals are constitutional in Texas, the agreements do not always offer all defendants benefits.
Reasons Why a Prosecutor Could agree to Reduce DUI charges or Penalties
Before you face a DWI conviction in Texas, the prosecutor needs to prove that you operated a motor vehicle in a public space and lacked the physical and mental capacity to do so. It can be quite difficult for the prosecutor to establish impairment in a DWI case. Some of the factors that could push the prosecutor into accepting a plea deal include:
Lack of a Probable Cause to Arrest you
In Texas, an arresting officer must have probable cause to arrest you for DWI. It is never right for an officer to violate your constitutional rights. The police can only search or seize evidence to make a DWI arrest under the following circumstances:
- Violating traffic laws could suggest DWI. Sober drivers are required to understand and follow traffic rules. If an officer witnesses you breaking traffic laws, they could use the information to support a probable cause of intoxication. However, on its own, violation of traffic rules is not sufficient to support an arrest.
- Reckless driving may be a sign of drunk driving. Reckless driving behaviors that could support a probable cause to arrest you from DWI in Texas may include driving on the wrong way, weaving between lanes, or failing to stop at an intersection. Such devious could suggest that your conduct is influenced by alcohol or other drugs.
- Drugs in vie. Driving with drugs or alcohol in plain view is a bad idea. If an officer sees an open can of alcohol in your vehicle, they could justify a probable cause to arrest you.
- Physical Behavior. Your general conduct may support a suspicion of intoxication. Having a slurred speech, alcohol odor in your breath, confusion, or inability to keep eye contact may cause an officer to believe that you are intoxicated.
If an officer cannot prove that they had probable cause to arrest you for DWI, their case may not be strong, and their evidence may be dismissed. In fear of losing the DWI case, the prosecutor could agree to enter a plea deal for a lesser offense. Before deciding to enter plea negotiations, you should ensure that going to trial will not have a better outcome for your case.
Lack of a Reasonable Suspicion to Conduct a Traffic Stop
You have rights under the Constitution against unreasonable search and seizure as it relates to traffic stops. Police officers are required to have a reasonable suspicion of your conduct before stopping your vehicle for DWI investigations. Sometimes, officers could claim to see violations such as:
- Failure to maintain control of your vehicle
- Headlight violations
- Following too closely
- Crossing the median
If you can prove that the traffic stop and search began in an illegal search or seizure, you could compel the prosecutor to accept a plea deal to reduce your charges or your penalties for DWI.
Violation of your Rights during an Arrest
Even when you are suspected of driving while intoxicated in Texas, arresting officers must respect your rights. You should not be forced into taking chemical tests. Even though failure to take the tests has legal consequences, you have the right to decide. If a DWI case started with a violation of rights, the evidence collected could be kept out of the case. In this case, the prosecutor could feel compelled to enter a plea negotiation.
Lack of Sufficient Evidence to Prove DWI
Before you are convicted for driving while intoxicated, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of Winsome of the pieces of evidence that a prosecutor can present to prove that you committed the offense include the results of your blood and breath tests. For you to be found guilty of DWI, your BAC could be 0.08% or higher. Also, the prosecutor must prove that your conduct was impaired by alcohol.
Most challenges that arise from blood tests involve challenges in how the tests are taken and handled before the DWI case. Some of the common reasons why a BAC test could be flawed include:
- Defective warrant to obtain the blood sample.
- Blood samples were taken by unqualified personnel.
- The samples were stored improperly.
- Police officers destroyed the samples and were not available for retesting.
- The blood test was taken long after your arrest.
If the prosecution realizes that they lack enough evidence to establish that you operated a vehicle while intoxicated, they may be more willing to enter a plea deal. With guidance from a DWI lawyer, you can counter the prosecutor's evidence against you and increase your chances at a plea negotiation.
Benefits of Negotiating a DWI Charge in Texas
Entering plea negotiations for your DWI case could be complicated. This is because the plea deals' main goal is to lessen your charges or penalties and make the situation favorable. However, some deals though legally acceptable, do not offer you significant benefits. A competent DWI lawyer will ensure that you arrive at a fair deal with the plea negotiations. The following are some benefits you accrue from plea agreements:
- A plea agreement allows you and your attorney control over the situation. You can go through the deal and decide if it works for you, then agree to it. Accepting or rejecting a plea is a way to control your fate. If your case goes to trial, the jury will determine your future, and you may not have a say in what happens to you.
- Your DWI case will move faster through the system if you enter plea negotiations. When you are taken to trial for a DWI case, the case may take a long time. This increases the number of times you go to court. Also, denial of bail could cause you to spend a significant amount of time in police custody. If you accept a plea, the case will move faster and reduce the psychological trauma associated with an ongoing case.
- You will have a better resolution with a plea deal than you would if your case goes to trial. A DWI conviction attracts severe consequences. You could be sentenced to jail or even a driver's license suspension. When you enter plea negotiations and end up in a good deal, you could avoid some harsh penalties like spending time in jail.
Alternative Sentencing after a DWI Plea Negotiation
When you face DWI charges, you could plead guilty and, in return, be sentenced to probation. Should you face probation instead of jail time, you are required to comply with all probation terms. Some of the probation conditions include:
- Regular check-ins with your probation officer. When you are serving a Texas probation sentence, you will be required to report your progress to your probation officer regularly. The officer will write a report on your conduct during probation and can report any violation to the court.
- Random tests for alcohol and other drugs may be conducted. If you accept a plea for probation instead of a trial, you will be subjected to regular drug tests. In most cases, the police officers will stop you or test you for alcohol or drugs after suspecting that your conduct is impaired. However, if you are on probation, random drug tests could be conducted even when your behavior is not influenced but the drugs.
- Mandatory attendance at AA meetings. As a condition of DWI probation, you are required to attend alcohol anonymous meetings.
- Payment of court fees, supervision fees, and fines. Even when you are not taken to trial or sentenced to jail, you may be required to pay a fine for your crime. Also, you will pay supervision fees since the probation officer will make regular home visits.
Negotiating your DWI case to face probation instead of a criminal trial is a great way to avoid serving time in jail. However, it is crucial to understand that violating probation terms could cause your probation to be revoked. If you decide to accept a plea and be sentenced to probation, you should be ready to follow all the conditions.
Wet Reckless as a DWI Plea Deal in Texas
You cannot face an arrest for wet reckless in Texas. This charge arises as a plea bargain to DWI charges. During DUI plea negotiations, you can agree to plead guilty to driving recklessly in exchange for a dismissal of your DWI charges. A conviction for driving while intoxicated in Texas puts your future at risk. However, accepting reckless driving could lessen the consequences.
Texas law seeks to punish individuals who drink and drive severely. Mandatory penalties are outlined for DWI depending on your criminal history and your blood alcohol concentration at the time of the arrest. Should you face a conviction for DWI, you will suffer the following consequences:
- A three months jail sentence,$2,000 in fines, and a driver's license suspension of up to one year for a first DWI offense
- A one-year jail sentence,$4,000 in court fines, and a two years license suspension for a second offense
- If you are convicted of a third DWI offense within ten years of a second offense, you could serve a ten-year jail sentence, pay fines amounting to $10,000 and suffer a two-year license suspension.
When you enter a reckless driving plea, you can accrue the following benefits:
- You will avoid spending time in jail. Reckless driving is not an offense as serious as DWI. Therefore, a conviction for reckless driving may allow you to stay out of jail.
- Lower fines
- Retain your driver's license. Reckless driving does not attract a driver's license suspension. Therefore, when you take the deal, you can maintain your driving privileges.
- Shorter probation. When you are convicted for wet reckless instead of DWI, you will be sentenced to shorter probation.
Even with the numerous benefits offered by a wet reckless plea deal, it is crucial to understand that reckless driving is prior in DWI cases. If you face DWI charges after a conviction for wet reckless, you could be considered a repeat offender and face an enhanced sentence. Before agreeing to this plea deal, it is vital to contact a DWI defense lawyer.
Find a Competent DWI Attorney Near Me
Facing an arrest and conviction for driving while intoxicated in Texas could be traumatizing. This is because of the severe consequences of a conviction. A DWI is a serious charge that requires significant attention. With the different approaches, you can defend your case and have the case dropped or charges lowered.
The impact a plea negotiation has on your case differs depending on your criminal history and your case's circumstances. If you or your loved one face DWI charges in Texas, you want to seek help from a competent Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer. Our group of able lawyers will guide you through the critical decisions in your case to ensure a favorable outcome. Contact us today at 817-470-2128 to discuss more details of your case.