Bedford DWI Lawyer

If you or someone you care about is facing a DWI charge in Bedford, you likely recognize that it's a serious charge, but you may not realize just how significant a conviction can be. The charge of driving while intoxicated is legally complex, which makes working closely with an experienced Bedford DWI lawyer from the outset always in your best interest.
At the Fulgham Law Firm, we have a team of former prosecutors and other highly experienced criminal defense attorneys, which gives us an edge when it comes to building defenses that are difficult to dismantle. We dedicate our practice to fiercely advocating for the legal rights of every valued client we represent, and our unique perspective and holistic approach help us win cases. We're here for you, too, and we encourage you to request a free consultation by giving us a call at 817-877-3030 today.

Why Hire a Bedford DWI Criminal Defense Attorney from Fulgham Law Firm

car key and gavel
We started our boutique criminal defense firm more than a decade ago with a mission to deliver the highest level of representation to those facing serious criminal charges. Our legal team consists of former prosecutors and some of the brightest criminal law minds in the profession, and we have invaluable legal insight and a nuanced understanding of how the criminal justice system in Texas works from the inside out. This means we are well-positioned to help you resolve your DWI case favorably.
Collectively, our attorneys have more than 70 years of criminal law experience, and we have successfully handled hundreds of criminal cases and trials throughout Bedford and all of Tarrant County and North Texas.
We have achieved an impressive track record of obtaining favorable outcomes for our clients, including numerous acquittals, dismissals, and reductions of charges. We promise to vigorously defend you throughout the process to improve your odds of getting the positive results you seek.
Contact us today for a free consultation.

What Are DWI Charges in Texas?

DWI – or driving while intoxicated – refers to driving when your blood alcohol exceeds the legal limit of .08 percent. Even if you don’t reach this legal threshold, however, you could face a DWI charge if your consumption of alcohol leaves you unable to safely control your vehicle. This means that the police often have considerable discretion on the matter of whether or not to arrest you for DWI.
The 0.08% BAC limit applies to adults over 21 years of age who hold a standard driver's license. The state has different rules and penalties for DWI involving underage individuals and commercial drivers.

Underage DWI

For individuals under the age of 21, there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol consumption while driving in Texas. If a person under the age of 21 is found to have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system while operating a motor vehicle, they can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) rather than DWI.
Penalties for underage DUI may include fines, community service, alcohol education programs, and a driver's license suspension. The severity of the penalties can depend on factors such as the individual's BAC and whether it is a first-time or repeat offense.

Commercial DWI

For commercial drivers, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is lower than for non-commercial drivers. Commercial drivers in Texas are subject to the following BAC limits:
Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Holders: The BAC limit is 0.04% for individuals holding a commercial driver's license (CDL) while operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Endorsement: If a commercial driver is transporting hazardous materials and has a HAZMAT endorsement, the BAC limit is even stricter at 0.00%.
Penalties for a commercial DWI can be severe and may include fines, license suspension, and even disqualification from holding a commercial driver's license. Additionally, a commercial DWI conviction can have a significant impact on a person's ability to work in certain professions that require a clean driving record.
Individuals in these categories must be aware of the specific rules and consequences that apply to them. Legal advice from an attorney experienced in Texas DWI laws can provide guidance based on the individual's circumstances. Keep in mind that laws can change, so it's important to consult with a legal professional for the most up-to-date information.

Reasonable Suspicion

To pull you over in the first place, the police must have a reason to do so. This can mean stopping you for another offense – no matter how minor – or stopping you based on their reasonable suspicion that you were driving drunk.  For their suspicion to be reasonable, they must be able to articulate it.
If you’re simply driving after the bars have closed, that doesn’t amount to a reasonable suspicion. If you can’t keep your car in your lane or are unable to maintain a steady speed, however, the matter is very different. While a reasonable suspicion is reason enough to pull you over, it’s not enough to arrest you for DWI.

Probable Cause

Before an officer can arrest you for DWI, they must have probable cause. If the officer has a reasonable suspicion necessary to pull you over, they will look for evidence that supports arrest from this point. Examples of probable cause that are likely to get you arrested include:
  • You have an open beer can or other alcoholic beverage container in plain view beside you.
  • The officer smells alcohol on your breath.
  • You slur your words.
  • You give them any other reason to believe you may be intoxicated.
At this point, the officer is likely to give you a breathalyzer test and proceed with an arrest if you fail it. As mentioned, however, you could face an arrest even if you blow below the legal limit.

Fines and Penalties for DWI in Texas

DWI charges vary in accordance with the level of the individual’s intoxication and in accordance with any aggravating factors. The basics regarding the fines and penalties associated with DWI charges include all the following:
  • A first DWI offense is generally a Class B misdemeanor, which carries fines of up to $2,000 and jail time of from 72 hours to 180 days – along with a license suspension of from 90 days to a year.
  • A first DWI offense with a BAC of over .15 percent is generally a Class A misdemeanor, which carries fines of up to $4,000 and jail time of from 72 hours to one year – along with a license suspension of from 90 days to a year.
  • A first DWI offense with an open container enhancement is generally a Class B misdemeanor, which carries fines of up to $2,000 and jail time of from 6 days to 180 days – along with a license suspension of from 90 days to a year.
  • A DWI with a child passenger is generally a state jail felony, which carries fines of up to $10,000 and jail time of from 6 months to 2 years – along with a license suspension of from 180 days to 2 years.
  • A second DWI offense is generally a Class A misdemeanor, which carries fines of up to $4,000 and jail time of from 30 days to a year – along with a license suspension of from 180 days to 2 years.
  • A third DWI offense is generally a third-degree felony, which carries fines of up to $10,000 and from 2 to 10 years in prison – along with a license suspension of from 180 days to 2 years.
  • With 3 or more DWI offenses and a prior state prison sentence, the charge is generally a second-degree felony, which carries up to $10,000 in fines and from 2 to 20 years in prison – along with a license suspension of up to 2 years.
If, in the course of driving while intoxicated, you injure someone else, you can be charged with intoxication assault. The charge is typically a third-degree felony that carries fines of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of from 2 to 10 years. If, however, you kill someone else in the course of driving while intoxicated, you can be charged with intoxication manslaughter, which can be charged as a second-degree felony. A conviction can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of from 2 to 20 years.
The State of Texas takes DWI charges exceptionally seriously, which makes having skilled legal guidance on your side paramount. At Fulgham Law Firm, we harness the full force of our extensive experience to pursue favorable case resolutions that protect our clients’ rights and best interests.

How a DWI Conviction Can Affect Your Driving Privileges

Losing your driving privileges for a considerable amount of time can directly affect your ability to earn a living. In addition to the exorbitant costs associated with a DWI, not being able to get to and from work can add insult to injury and must be factored into the losses you face.
Texas does offer an occupational license for those who haven’t received one in the last 10 years. This amounts to a restricted license that allows you to drive back and forth to work – or to classes if you are in school – and to perform primary household tasks, such as shopping for groceries and other necessities.
If you do receive an occupational license, the judge may impose additional restrictions, which can include:
  • Installing an interlock ignition device on your vehicle that requires you to breathe into a device that measures your BAC before you can start your car
  • Attending a mandatory alcohol counseling program
  • Doing community service
  • Limiting where you can drive and the number of hours you can drive

The DWI Breath Test

You have the right to refuse a breath test. If you do, the officer may obtain a warrant for a blood test. Further, a breath test refusal comes with an automatic license suspension, but you have the right to a hearing on the matter within 15 days. Whether to refuse a breathalyzer test is a complicated question, and the answer depends on the circumstances of your stop.
It’s important to also keep in mind, however, that the handheld breath tests that officers perform on the roadside are not considered especially reliable. While the tests performed back at the police station are more so, there is no guarantee of their accuracy either. Nevertheless, the results of any breath test you take can be used as evidence against you.

Common DWI Defense Strategies

The best defense is one that focuses on the unique circumstances of your case, but most defense strategies fall into basic groupings.

The Stop Was Illegal

As mentioned, the police must have a reason – or reasonable suspicion – to stop you in the first place. If they can’t state what their reasonable suspicion was, the stop itself may not have been legal. If the officer simply had a hunch or you happened to be out when drunk drivers tend to be out, it doesn’t rise to the level of a reasonable suspicion. When this is the case, any evidence collected as a result of the stop can be challenged.

The Breath Test Was Inaccurate

Many factors can affect the reading on a handheld breathalyzer, including:
  • Taking certain medications
  • Using mouthwash
  • Eating certain foods
  • Certain health conditions, such as diabetes
Additionally, the testing device itself must be accurately calibrated for the reading to be accurate, and the officer administering the test must be properly trained. In fact, a lot can go wrong when it comes to breath tests.

The Blood Draw Was Not Performed Properly

If you’re arrested for DWI, the police will very likely do a blood draw at the station in order to obtain a more accurate reading of your BAC. There are, however, important protocols that must be followed. Issues with how the sample was taken, how it was stored, and how it was tested can arise.
The Field Sobriety Test Didn’t Establish Probable Cause
Officers sometimes use field sobriety tests to establish probable cause, but these tests are generally considered iffy at best. There are also a number of reasons why an individual may not do well in a physical or mental test that they’re required to perform on the side of the road by a police officer. Without probable cause, as mentioned, the case against you can fall apart.

The Social Consequences of a Conviction

The fines and penalties you face as a result of a DWI conviction are immense, but it’s important to understand that your conviction is a matter of public record. This means it can also have significant social consequences, such as:
  • You could lose your professional licensure.
  • You could face educational consequences, such as denial of admission or suspension from school.
  • Renting a place to live can be challenging.
  • You may have trouble getting a job.
  • You could experience damage to your reputation in your community.
  • A conviction could affect your child custody rights or visitation schedule.
The overall consequences of a DWI conviction are far-reaching. Thus, it's crucial you hire an experienced DWI lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest to increase your chances of obtaining a successful outcome.

Addressing the DWI Charge Head-On

If having the DWI charge against you dismissed entirely is not a possibility, there may be other options. In some situations, charge enhancements can be waived on a first DWI charge, which returns the charge to a Class B misdemeanor. This requires the kind of persuasive reasoning that a practiced Bedford DWI lawyer can provide.
There are also instances in which a first-time DWI defendant can receive deferred adjudication. This involves pleading either guilty or no contest to the DWI charge and agreeing to comply with the conditions set for you by the court. No contest means accepting the fact that the state has enough evidence to convict you without admitting guilt yourself. The effect, however, is the same as a guilty plea. If you successfully complete each of the requirements the court sets for you, your case will be dismissed, and no final conviction will be entered. While the charge will remain on your record, a deferred adjudication helps pave the way for having it sealed at a later date.

What Should I Do After Being Arrested for DWI in Bedford, TX

If you have been arrested for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in Bedford, Texas, it's important to take certain steps to protect your rights and navigate the legal process. Here are some general guidelines to consider:
  • Remain Calm: It's natural to feel stressed and anxious, but it's important to stay calm. Resisting arrest or arguing with law enforcement officers can lead to additional charges.
  • Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent: You have the right to remain silent, and it's often advisable to use it. Anything you say or do can be used against you in court. Politely decline to answer questions without an attorney present.
  • Cooperate with Law Enforcement: While remaining silent, it's important to cooperate with law enforcement officers. Refusing a chemical test (breathalyzer or blood test) can result in additional consequences, such as an automatic driver's license suspension.
  • Request an Attorney: You have the right to an attorney. If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer immediately. Do not answer questions without legal representation.
  • Document the Arrest: If possible, try to remember details of the arrest, such as the time, location, and interactions with law enforcement. This information may be useful in building a defense.
  • Request a Hearing with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS): If you refused a chemical test, you have the right to request a hearing with the Texas DPS to challenge the automatic license suspension. You must request this hearing within 15 days of your arrest.
  • Hire an Experienced DWI Attorney: Retain a skilled DWI defense attorney in Bedford who is familiar with Texas DWI laws. An attorney can help you understand your options, build a defense strategy, and represent you in court.
  • Prepare for Legal Proceedings: Your attorney will guide you through the legal process. Be prepared to attend court hearings, comply with any requirements imposed by the court, and work with your attorney to build a strong defense.
  • Explore Defense Strategies: Work with your attorney to explore possible defense strategies. This could include challenging the validity of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the breathalyzer or blood test, or other aspects of the case.
Remember, each DWI case is unique, and the specific actions you should take may vary based on the details of your situation. Reach out to a qualified DWI attorney in Bedford from the Fulgham Law Firm to receive personalized advice and guidance tailored to your case.

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Turn to an Experienced Bedford DWI Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

At the Fulgham Law Firm, our Bedford criminal defense attorneys will use our 70+ years of collective experience to help devise an effective defense strategy to help you get the most favorable outcome possible for your Bedford DWI charge. To learn more, give us a call at 817-877-3030 or contact us online today for a free consultation.