Charged with a DWI in Fort Worth, Texas / Tarrant County? Call Top-Rated DWI Defense Lawyer Brandon Fulgham today.
Are you or someone you know facing a driving while intoxicated charge in Fort Worth, Arlington or a surrounding city?
If so, you need an experienced Fort Worth DWI Lawyer to fight on your behalf. Brandon Fulgham has personally tried over 50 jury trials in the area of DWI alone. Additionally, Mr. Fulgham has tried numerous trials before a Judge. When it comes to someone representing you on a DWI charge in Fort Worth it is important you hire a Fort Worth Criminal Lawyer with trial experience.
A person commits the offense of Driving While Intoxicated if they are operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated, you face up to 180 days in county jail and up to a $2,000 fine.
In addition to DWI, I handle other alcohol-related offenses including:
- Driving While Intoxicated 2nd offense
- Driving While Intoxicated 3rd or more (Felony DWI)
- Intoxication Assault
- Public Intoxication
- Minor in possession
Texas DWIs At a Glance
Texas drunk driving laws are the 13th strictest in the nation. Individuals facing DWI charges stand to be hit with Texas-tough penalties. What is more, subsequent DWI offenses in this state are always punished increasingly more severely.
Penalties on First DWI Offenses Are Already Pretty Steep
- Fined up to a maximum of $2000.
- Three days to a maximum of one year in jail
- Suspension of driver’s license up to one year
- An annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 over a 3-year period to retain driver’s license.
A Second DWI Offense Doubles the Fine and License Suspension Time
- Fined up to a maximum of $4000.
- One month to a maximum of one year in jail
- Suspension of driver’s license up to two years
- An annual fee of $1,000. $1,500 or $2,000 over a 3-year period to retain driver’s license.
Get a Third DWI, Pay Five Times the Fine of a First-time Offender
- $10,000 fine
- Two years to a maximum of ten years in prison
- Suspension of driver’s license up to two years
- An annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 over a 3-year period to retain driver’s license.
Furthermore, two-plus DWI convictions within a five-year period require the installment of a special ignition switch that prevents the vehicle from being operated if it detects alcohol consumption.
DWI with Child Passenger in Texas
When you are convicted of a DWI with a child passenger in your car, the state of Texas says it doesn’t care whether it’s your first offense. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Plan on facing a state jail felony.
Driving with a Child While Intoxicated is a State Jail Felony
Here’s how things will shake out upon conviction:
- 180 days to two years in a state jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Loss of License for up to 180 days
Offenders may also be subject to any other penalties, such as community service, ignition switch installation, and annual license fees.
You Could Lose Custody of Your Child
Since DWI with a child passenger offenses are often also considered a form of child endangerment, the Texas Department of Family Services (TDFS) may also become involved. When that happens, you are at risk of losing custody of their children.
Common Defenses against Texas DWI with a Child Charges
With so much on the line, it is imperative you have a skilled attorney to argue on your behalf, implementing all applicable defenses. Most successful defenses address the driving-while-intoxicated component since the presence of a child cannot be refuted.
- Challenging the charge based on a violation of constitutional rights (i.e., no reasonable cause to pull an individual over)
- Challenging DWI tests such as field sobriety tests, breath tests, blood tests, etc.
- Challenging police and witness testimony
- Case-specific defenses (such as driving out of necessity to escape harm)
Ultimately a defense should be tailored to your unique circumstances. While there is not a whole lot of them, there may be a logical explanation for the predicament you found yourself in. Tell your experienced Texas DWI attorney everything and let them help you explain.
Possible DWI Defenses
Did you know Texas is a state in which a motorist can get a DWI without driving (our courts have defined the term “operating” quite broadly)? Or that there are several substances that can “read” as alcohol on a breath test – even though they are not?
Whether you were drinking or not, if you’re one of the many Texans who did happen to get charged with DWI over the holiday weekend this year, you’re going to want an experienced DWI defense attorney in your corner.
Why? Because a Texas DWI charge could cost you more than you think, but only if you do nothing. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, there are plenty of ways to fight back if you know the law. Like what?
To initially stop a motorist, law enforcement must have more than just a “hunch” or “gut feeling” you are committing or have committed a crime. When you are pulled over, the police officer must have a legitimate reason for doing so, and they are required to tell you why you have been stopped.
An improper stop is the most common argument in cases like these. If you were obeying the speed limit and other traffic laws, were not driving erratically, and did not experience a mechanical malfunction such as having a taillight out or a blinker not working, your attorney will likely assert that the police did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over.
Mistake of Fact
There are innumerable legitimate circumstances and conditions which may create the appearance of drunkenness and/or skew breath test results. Just a few examples include:
- If the recommended number of hours have passed since any impairing prescription medication has been taken, one could have reasonably believed it was okay to drive.
- It is common knowledge now that fatigue or neurological problems can cause slurred speech.
- Most people also suffer from seasonal allergies or occasional sinus troubles, which are known to cause red, bloodshot, and/or watery eyes.
- Dietary ketosis and diabetes are also known to register high BAC resultson breath test devices.
If you honestly believe you were not intoxicated and can provide a reasonable explanation and/or evidence of such, this information will be key in presenting your defense to the court.
Lack of Probable Cause
Just as the police officer should have a reason to stop you, there must also be evidence presented which proves the officer had reason to believe, or probable cause, that you were in violation of Texas DWI law.
This can be tricky, because it usually requires a level of subjectivity on the part of the police officer and challenging the testimony of an officer trained to identify intoxication can sometimes backfire with a jury. However, when you have a valid reason for your behavior or the arresting officer truly lacked probable cause, in many cases it is determined that certain evidence should be thrown out by law.
Even when evidence is determined to be admissible in court, there are additional defense strategies depending on what form it takes.
Maybe you did drink and still got behind the wheel. Even if you admit this, there are still several potentially valid reasons you may have chosen to do so.
Perhaps it was “necessary” for you to drive intoxicated to avoid something more serious than the potential harm caused by this DWI. There have been cases where an intoxicated motorist was forced to drive under threat of harm by another person – this is known as duress. We have also seen situations in which the intoxicated driver was unaware they had ingested alcohol at the time they elected to drive home. For example, if they were at a party and someone “spiked” their drink.
Remember, a Texas DWI charge is not a conviction. With the right defense strategy, a chance to share your side of the story with the court, and a thorough examination of the facts, you may still be able to beat your charges.
Factors Determining Whether or Not Texans Get a DWI
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs takes hundreds of lives each year – and those are just the numbers for our state. In the past few years, Texas law enforcement officials have experimented with different methods for reducing the number of fatalities on the road. Extra vigilance and more DWI arrests seem to be doing the trick – but are they at the expense of truth and justice?
Unless you have a breathalyzer or ignition interlock device in your car, you likely do not know what your blood alcohol content is at any given moment. The difference between .07 and .08 is small in numbers, but big when you consider the thousands of dollars in fines and fees that you will have to pay for a DWI arrest.
Pair this with the fact that there are several factors that can impact how your BAC reads – some of them valid, some not – and it becomes incredibly important how blood-alcohol level works and what you can do to impact yours.
Before you begin to read about alcohol consumption, it’s important to know that everybody will react differently, and no set of factors will result in the same BAC for two people. The following physical factors may have an impact on how one standard drink affects your BAC:
- Amount of body fat/muscle tissue
- Overall build
- Metabolic rate (the rate at which the body turns food into energy)
- Food in your stomach before drinking
- Stress levels
In other words, just because you and a buddy both had two beers, that does not mean your BAC will be the same. Legally speaking, he might be fine, while you are not – or vice versa.
Amount You Have Had to Drink
This is an obvious factor, but the more you drink, the higher your blood alcohol content will be. If you are going out for the night and plan to drive home, cutting yourself off after an early beer or two is the safest bet.
Of course, skipping booze altogether when you know you will be driving is even safer, and recommended in case you must head home early.
If you are going to drink and drive, though, know what counts as a standard drink before you go out. If you have a cup of beer and then fill that cup with a vodka soda, you will most likely have consumed more than two standard drinks.
If you do not know how much your drink counts as a standard drink, it is probably best to put it down and save it for a night when you can take a taxi.
Time That Has Passed
It takes time for your body to process alcohol and decrease the amount in your blood. In general, it takes one hour to process a standard drink. That is just a general guideline, though. If you pound back four drinks in an hour, it could take longer than four hours to get the alcohol completely out of your system.
Essentially, once the liver is tasked with processing at least one drink, it becomes overwhelmed. For this reason, it is best to wait at least an hour or two between finishing a drink and hitting the road.
Medications in Your Bloodstream
In general, it is not a good idea to mix medication and alcohol. A simple ibuprofen can spike your BAC higher than it would normally be without any medication.
Let us say that again to make sure it sinks in. Popping a Tylenol – a Tylenol! – could mean the difference between driving away without any charges and spending a few days in jail for DWI.
This is where the question of truth and justice comes in.
There are lots of ways that our body can read as having consumed alcohol – even if we have not done so in a traditionally impairing way.
For example, if you swish with mouthwash that contains alcohol, a test may show that you are way over the legal limit. Certain foods cooked with alcohol can cause the same issue.
Those are just two ways this can happen. There are many others, and they are important to recognize so you can protect yourself against unwarranted charges.
How Texans Can Calculate Their BAC
If you are ever in a situation where you want to check your BAC before you get behind the wheel, there are options available. Smartphone apps exist that allow you to calculate a BAC estimate by using factors like the food and drinks in your stomach, as well as your weight. Alternatively, you could ask the bartender if there is a breathalyzer at the bar – or you could even purchase one yourself.
Importantly, you need to remember that these tools all just provide an estimated BAC. However, because the breath test devices used by law enforcement have been shown to be woefully inaccurate, taking your own estimate really is not any worse.
Also remember that Texans do not have to submit to field sobriety tests, but they do have to submit to chemical tests if they are arrested.
Can Technology Keep You from Getting a Texas DWI?
Since 1980, the year Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded by a mother after losing her young daughter by a serial drunk driver, the issue of drinking and driving has been solidly in the public consciousness. Studies have been performed, laws have been tightened, and rehabilitation programs developed.
Yet according to TXDOT, a person is still hurt or killed in a vehicular crash involving alcohol about every 20 minutes.
Under Texas law, you are legally defined as intoxicated while driving when your BAC registers as 0.08 or higher. However, regardless of actual BAC, law enforcement may consider a person intoxicated and driving under the influence if he or she demonstrates impairment in any way, and research shows the average drinker reaches this point through the consumption of two to three drinks in an hour.
Since the last way you want to end the night is by getting charged with DWI, it is up to you to take advantage of all the tools at your disposal. Today, there are a myriad of useful digital tools out there to advise and inform those who elect to drink.
How can you choose which ones are best to use, and at what point?
Just as you might drink one particular type of alcohol over another depending on the event, there are several types of apps appropriate for a given situation. We suggest thinking of them this way and pairing them with other safety measures – just like you would when deciding which wine to pair with dinner, for instance.
There are three general types of app available if you are already a drink or two in: those designed to analyze your breath; those which simply estimate your blood alcohol content; and those to track your consumption.
BACTrack Mobile Breathalyzer
In an experiment by the Rossen Reports with TODAY, the breathalyzer with readings most consistent to law enforcement testers was Alcohoot. However, we selected BACTrack for two reasons.
First, BACTrack has stated that they chose to err on the side of caution and user safety by over-estimating BACs, and we like that – you are always better safe than sorry. The other reason is that the phone attachment happens to be a bit less expensive.
Pairing: Remember, readings are affected by a multitude of factors beyond the amount of alcohol you have consumed, causing mobile breathalyzers to produce results that are all over the map. A blow into a breathalyzer should be taken as nothing more than a quick check in on your condition. For this reason, we recommend pairing it with a walkable overnight reservation – whether it is a hotel room or an Airbnb, make the evening last all night.
IntelliDrink BAC Calculator
Estimating your BAC is more than comparing your height and weight to the number of drinks you have had. ItelliDrink considers your age, gender, general tolerance, and current stomach content level, as well.
On-screen, you can watch your own BAC rise and fall, and set notifications for when you are above your limits if you would like. This one has even been incorporated in university-level research projects for calibrating sophisticated data analysis in alcohol sensors.
Pairing: Regardless of the accuracy of the data you input, an estimate will never equal a blood draw. These estimates are a great tool for pointing out what you probably already know – you are intoxicated, so we think this app would pair perfectly with some time with a food menu. These days, you would be hard-pressed to escape a row of food trucks after hours in any entertainment district. Wait it out – give yourself enough time to sober up and fill your belly with a heavy snack before you hit the road.
DrinkControl Drink Tracker
This app is the free version of the DrinkControl apps by the same developer, E-protect. It carries a 4.3 out of 5-star rating and is designed to help users be more self-aware about the number of drinks they are consuming. Its primary purpose is to prevent binging.
What’s great about this app is that it not only monitors your consumption against national guidelines, but also can track what you’re spending on those drinks – in money and calories! Additionally, the application allows you to view (and download, if you want) a personal infographic detailing monthly, quarterly, and annual statistics on your drinking habits.
Pairing: Because the risk of forgetting to track your drinks after a certain point can leave you in the lurch at your most critical point, we recommend pairing this one with a rideshare. If you have not already designated a driver, this is the best option if you have stopped counting.
If there is an overall drawback to these technological tools, it is that they are designed for the most part to be used when your judgement is already impaired. What these tools can provide, however, is a support system for avoiding a DWI by planning to drink responsibly before the first sip has ever been taken.
Texas DWI Charge? How Much Could It Cost You?
Getting a DWI does not cost the same for everyone – but in Texas they are always expensive. We will break down the potential costs for you in this post and tell you what the law says.
Do not Believe the Cost Hype… Or Maybe You Should
Awhile back there was a TxDOT billboard near Austin proclaiming that a DWI in Texas costs $17,000. The link on the billboard told the story of a woman who was arrested for DWI. She lost her drivers’ license, spent half a day in jail, was ordered to serve 100 hours of community service and was subject to two years of probation. She also had to take alcohol education classes as part of her sentencing.
In the video, the woman also pays attorney fees, court costs, vehicle towing services, and bail bonds. Her checkbook register shows a negative balance of over $17,000.
That is a terrifying story, but it is also just that – a story. An independent research team looked into it and discovered that the woman’s story is fiction.
Do not rest easy, though. While their research found that her story was made up, they also learned that the $17,000 figure was based on a 2006 study commissioned by TxDOT. The study included 30 interviews of DWI offenders, county clerks, defense attorneys, and prosecutors in 15 different Texas counties.
The report from these interviews says that first-time DWI offenders can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $24,000 in total costs, and that the true average cost is somewhere around $13,000.
That is a scary number, but perhaps the most frightening one is $19,000. That is the difference between the highest and lowest costs they mention, and your cost can fall anywhere in that range.
Oh, it is also important to note that loss of income, the cost of alternate transportation while your license is revoked, higher insurance rates, and counseling fees are not included in the figure. Ouch.
How Do You Prepare for the Cost? Learn the DWI Laws in Texas
Unfortunately, you cannot know exactly what you are going to have to pay for your DWI. However, there are some basic numbers that you can get from official sources.
A first conviction for DWI will cause you to lose your license for up to one year. You may be ordered to spend between three and 180 days in jail and pay a fine of up to $2,000. To retain your driver’s license, you will be required to pay an annual fee of $1,000 to $2,000 for three years.
Basic Cost: $5,000-$8,000
A second conviction for DWI will cause you to lose your license for up to two years. You may be ordered to spend between one month to one year in jail and pay a fine of up to $4,000. To retain your driver’s license, you will be required to pay an annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years.
Basic Cost: $7,000-$10,000
A third conviction for DWI will cause you to lose your license for up to two years. You may be ordered to spend between two to 10 years in prison and pay a fine of up to $10,000. To retain your driver’s license, you will be required to pay an annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years. If you have two or more DWI convictions within a five-year period, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device that allows you to drive only if your BAC is below a set limit.
Basic Cost: $13,000-$16,000
Seek Legal Counsel for a Texas DWI Charge
All these big numbers making you feel a little anxious? They should.
Remember that a charge does not equal a conviction, though. When you speak with an experienced Texas criminal attorney, he or she will be able to go over the facts of your case and lay out the potential options that are available to you.
They will help you put together the strongest possible defense, enabling you to minimize costs while providing you with the best chance to get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed.
Experienced and Aggressive Fort Worth DWI Attorney Brandon Fulgham is the Only Call You Will Need to Make
If you are convicted of driving while intoxicated in Fort Worth, it can affect the rest of your life. You need an aggressive and knowledgeable Fort Worth criminal lawyer on your side. Whether you have been charged with your first or subsequent DWI a conviction could carry with it the possibility of jail time, fines, and other devastating consequences.
At Fulgham Law Firm P.C., you will find a Fort Worth DWI law practice focused on passionately defending the accused. Contact our Fort Worth office now at 817-886-3078 for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Fort Worth DWI attorney.
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We’ve helped hundreds of people in Texas and we can help you too. We’ll set you up with a free conversation with Mr. Fulgham which will help you know what to do next. The Fulgham Law Firm serves Fort Worth and Tarrant county areas.
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