Have you been charged with a DWI in Texas? Don't navigate the complex legal terrain alone - seek expert assistance. The seasoned attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC are here to support you with their extensive knowledge and understanding of the Texas legal system. Leveraging over 100 years of combined experience and over 25,000 criminal and family law cases handled, they bring an unparalleled depth of expertise to your defense. Their significant experience, including roles as prosecutors, judges, and public office appointees, provides a unique and beneficial perspective to their clients. Their record speaks for itself: they have a history of winning complex cases through more than 370 jury trials. Reach out today at 512-991-0576 or contact them online. Entrust your case to Cofer & Connelly, PLLC following your Georgetown DWI arrest.
Williamson County DWI Attorney Information Center
- Understanding Williamson County DWI Laws
- Understanding Williamson County Enhanced DWI Laws
- Defenses To DWI In Williamson County
- Understanding The Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTIP) In Williamson County
- DWI/Drug Court In Williamson County: A Chance For Rehabilitation Instead Of Incarceration
- Frequently Asked Questions About DWI In Williamson County
- DWI Lawyer In Williamson County
Understanding Williamson County DWI Laws
Here’s a breakdown of Texas DWI law, according to Texas Penal Code Chapter 49, Section 49.04:
What Does The Law Say?
The law states that it's an offense to drive while intoxicated in a public place. This seems pretty clear-cut, right? However, the law gets a bit more complicated when it starts discussing the different penalties and scenarios that can occur if you're found guilty of this offense.
The Basics: Consequences Of A DWI
Firstly, it's important to note that the default penalty for a DWI in Texas is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. This means that if you are found guilty of this crime, you could face a minimum of 72 hours in jail. But remember, that's the bare minimum. The court may impose additional penalties based on the specific circumstances of the case. The offense is punishable by up to a $2,000 fine, up to 180 days in jail, or both.
A Twist In The Tale: Open Container Law
The law takes a harsher stance if, at the time of the alleged offense, the driver had an open container of alcohol in their immediate possession. If this happens to be the case, the minimum jail term goes up from 72 hours to six days. That's a significant increase in consequences just for having an open booze bottle or can in your car while driving.
The Heavier Side: High Blood Alcohol Concentration
The law gets even stricter if an analysis of your urine, breath, or blood shows an alcohol concentration level of at least 0.15. If you're found with this high of an alcohol concentration level, the offense elevates from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor. The repercussions of a Class A misdemeanor are typically more severe, as the offense is punishable by up to a $4,000 fine, one year in jail, or both.
Understanding Williamson County Enhanced DWI Laws
Texas Penal Code's Chapter 49, Section 49.09 concerns enhanced offenses and penalties for DWIs.
Recurring Offenses: The More Strikes, The Harder The Penalty
Under Texas law, if you've previously been found guilty of operating a vehicle (motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft) or even an amusement ride while intoxicated, a subsequent offense carries a stiffer penalty. This new offense is bumped up to a Class A misdemeanor and mandates a minimum of 30 days in jail.
However, the law isn't lenient if your past includes certain offenses. If you've already been convicted:
- Once of an offense under Section 49.08 (intoxication manslaughter), or a similar out-of-state offense, or
- Twice of any other offense related to operating a vehicle while intoxicated,
Your new offense will be considered a third-degree felony.
Heightened Consequences For Injuring Specific Professionals
The law escalates penalties if your intoxicated operation of a vehicle results in serious injury to specific professionals performing their duties. The affected professionals include firefighters, emergency medical service personnel, peace officers, or judges. Depending on the professional involved, the offense can be a second or even a first-degree felony.
Furthermore, if your intoxicated operation results in someone's death (covered in subsection b-1), the crime is deemed a first-degree felony.
Serious Bodily Injury: A Different Level Of Harm
If your actions while intoxicated cause someone else to suffer a traumatic brain injury, leading to a persistent vegetative state, the law regards your offense as a second-degree felony.
The Definitions: What Qualifies As An Offense?
The law offers clear definitions for different kinds of offenses related to operating different vehicles and amusement rides while intoxicated. It also considers past laws and similar out-of-state laws.
What Counts As A Conviction?
According to the law, a conviction is considered final and can be used for enhancement if you're later charged with another similar offense, whether the sentence for the conviction was imposed or probated.
Enhanced Penalties For Repeat Offenders Within Five Years
The law also has specific provisions for people who are convicted for a second or subsequent DWI offense committed within five years of the last offense. In these cases, the court can order the installation of a device in your vehicle that prevents operation if it detects alcohol in your breath. You'll have to bear the cost and provide evidence of installation, and the device has to stay installed for a year. If you don't comply with this order, you could be held in contempt of court.
Defenses To DWI In Williamson County
There are several potential defenses to DWI in Texas. It's important to note that the specific defenses available to you may vary depending on the circumstances of your case and the evidence presented. Consulting with an experienced DWI attorney, such as the criminal defense attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, can help you identify and build a strong defense strategy tailored to your situation. Here are some potential defenses:
Lack Of Intoxication
The statute specifies that a person must be "intoxicated" to be charged with a DWI. If you can provide evidence to challenge the claim of intoxication, such as medical conditions or medication that affected your ability to operate a motor vehicle, it may be a viable defense.
Traffic Stop Invalid
If the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop or lacked probable cause to believe you were intoxicated, it could be a defense. Unlawful stops or searches can potentially lead to the exclusion of evidence.
Improper Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand, are often subjective and rely on an officer's interpretation. These tests are often challenged for their reliability and accuracy. If the tests were conducted improperly or the officer misinterpreted the results, it can weaken the prosecution's case.
Inaccurate Breath Or Blood Tests
Breathalyzer devices and blood tests are commonly used to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Yet, these tests can produce wrong results because of various factors (e.g., improper calibration, operator error, or medical conditions). Challenging the accuracy and reliability of the test results can be a defense strategy.
Violation Of Constitutional Rights
If your constitutional rights were violated during the arrest or investigation, such as a failure to read your Miranda rights or a coerced confession, it may be possible to challenge the admissibility of evidence obtained as a result.
Rising BAC Defense
Alcohol takes time to be absorbed into the bloodstream, so it is possible that your BAC was below the legal limit while driving but increased by the time you were tested. This "rising BAC" defense argues that you were not intoxicated while operating the vehicle.
Remember, the effectiveness of these defenses will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. It is crucial to consult with an experienced DWI defense attorney who can assess the details of your situation and provide tailored advice for your defense strategy.
Challenging Prior Convictions
If the prosecution is relying on prior convictions to enhance the offense, you may challenge the validity or accuracy of those prior convictions. This could involve questioning the evidence or procedures used in previous cases, including the admissibility of prior out-of-state convictions or the similarity of elements in comparable offenses.
Understanding The Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTIP) In Williamson County
Facing a DWI charge in Williamson County, Texas can be a daunting experience, but there is a program called the Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTIP) that aims to help certain offenders in the criminal justice system. Here’s more about what PTIP is, how it works, and what it means for you if you're considering participating in the program.
What Is PTIP?
The Pre-Trial Intervention Program (known as PTIP) is a special initiative run by the Williamson County Attorney's Office and Texas Community Supervision Alternatives, LLC. It is designed to provide education, rehabilitation, and an alternative to prosecution for individuals who qualify. The goal of PTIP is to help offenders address the issues that led to their criminal charges and provide them with an opportunity to make positive changes in their lives.
Participation in PTIP is entirely voluntary. It means that as a defendant, you have the choice to opt for this program or pursue other legal options. It's important to note that PTIP is not available for every offense, and eligibility criteria will determine whether you qualify for the program. However, if you meet the requirements, PTIP can offer you an alternative path to resolving your DWI charge.
Entering The PTIP Agreement
If you decide to take part in PTIP and are approved, you will enter into an official agreement with the County Attorney's Office. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions of your participation in the program. It's crucial to carefully review and understand the terms of the agreement before signing it. By signing the agreement, you commit to fulfilling certain obligations and responsibilities throughout the duration of the program.
Completing PTIP Successfully
Once you are enrolled in PTIP, you will need to diligently work towards completing the program successfully. This involves fulfilling the requirements set forth in your PTIP Agreement, which may include attending educational programs, undergoing counseling or treatment, and complying with any other conditions specified. It's important to take these obligations seriously and make a genuine effort to address the issues that led to your DWI charge.
Dismissal Of Criminal Charge
If you successfully complete PTIP and fulfill all the requirements outlined in your PTIP Agreement, the County Attorney's Office will dismiss the criminal charge that was pending against you. This means that the DWI charge will no longer be held against you, and you will not have a conviction on your record related to that specific offense. This can have significant positive implications for your future, as it allows you to move forward without the burden of a criminal conviction.
Consequences Of PTIP Agreement Violation
While PTIP offers an opportunity for diversion and a chance to avoid prosecution, it's essential to understand the potential consequences of violating the PTIP Agreement. If you fail to fulfill your obligations, violate the terms of the agreement, or otherwise do not successfully complete the program, you will be sent back to court. At this point, you typically need to plead guilty to the original offense and have to accept sentence that has already been negotiated. In other words, you will lose the benefits of PTIP and face the traditional legal process for your DWI charge.
The Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTIP) in Williamson County, Texas, provides an opportunity for certain offenders to address the issues that led to their criminal charges and avoid prosecution. By voluntarily participating in PTIP, you can take advantage of educational and rehabilitative resources to make positive changes in your life. If you successfully complete the program, the criminal charge pending against you will be dismissed. However, it's crucial to adhere to the terms of the PTIP Agreement and fulfill your obligations.
DWI/Drug Court In Williamson County: A Chance For Rehabilitation Instead Of Incarceration
If you're facing a DWI charge in Williamson County, Texas, you’ll want to know about the DWI/Drug Court program. This program aims to enhance public safety by reducing repeat offenses through evidence-based practices and a collaborative approach involving various professionals.
Mission And Purpose Of DWI/Drug Court
The Williamson County DWI/Drug Court aims to improve public safety through reducing repeat offenses and changing lives. The program achieves this by using evidence-based practices and forming a team of professionals. The primary goal is to offer a consistent way to help offenders succeed while maximizing community safety.
Rehabilitation Instead Of Incarceration
The DWI/Drug Court is an alternative to incarceration for repeat DWI and misdemeanor drug possession offenders. Instead of going to jail, you can participate in at least a year-long program that combines substance abuse treatment, case management, and local criminal justice resources. By combining these elements, the program aims to rehabilitate individuals and address the root causes of their behavior.
The DWI/Drug Court Team
The success of the DWI/Drug Court program depends on the collaborative efforts of various professionals. The team includes a judge, a County Attorney’s Office prosecutor, a defense lawyer, community supervision and corrections department representatives, in addition to treatment providers. These professionals work together to support participants in their journey toward recovery from alcohol dependency.
The DWI/Drug Court serves repeat DWI offenders who have already gone through the legal process. However, individuals who are currently under supervision and violate supervision terms could potentially be eligible to enter into the program. The goal is to provide a chance for rehabilitation and change for those who need it most.
Focus And Expectations
The DWI/Drug Court program focuses on several key areas to ensure the success of participants. These areas include compliance with conditions relating to community supervision ordered by the court, maintaining abstinence or sobriety as verified by testing, completion of outpatient treatment, and development of living skills that promote sobriety. Court hearings allow the judge to stay informed about individual progress and compliance during the program.
Rewards For Honesty And Consequences For Dishonesty
Compliance is highly valued in the DWI/Drug Court program. Participants who admit their violations honestly receive reduced court responses, while those who are dishonest may face increased consequences. It's important to understand that if a participant is unsuccessful in completing the program, their case will be sent back to court, and further legal actions may be taken, including motions to set aside deferred adjudication or to revoke supervision.
If you're facing a DWI or misdemeanor drug possession charge in Williamson County, Texas, the DWI/Drug Court program could provide you with an opportunity for rehabilitation instead of incarceration. Remember, honesty and compliance are key to success in this program, and it offers rewards for those who are forthcoming about their violations.
Frequently Asked Questions About DWI In Williamson County
What Constitutes A DWI Under Texas Law?
Under Texas law, you commit a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) offense if you operate a motor vehicle in a public place while you're intoxicated.
What Is The Basic Punishment For A DWI In Texas?
A DWI offense in Texas is classified as a Class B misdemeanor, which comes with a minimum jail term of 72 hours. However, this is the minimum punishment, and the actual sentence could be more severe depending on the circumstances of the case. The offense is punishable by up to a $2,000 fine, up to 180 days in jail, or both.
What Happens If I'm Caught Driving With An Open Container Of Alcohol In My Car?
If you're found operating a vehicle with an open container of alcohol in your immediate possession at the time of the offense, your minimum jail term increases to six days.
What If My Blood, Breath, Or Urine Analysis Shows A High Level Of Alcohol?
If your urine, blood, or breath analysis equates to at least a 0.15 blood alcohol concentration level, your DWI offense elevates to a Class A misdemeanor.
What Is Considered A Class A Misdemeanor Under Texas DWI Laws?
A Class A misdemeanor applies to situations where you're convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated for the second time. This classification includes operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or even an amusement ride while intoxicated. The offense is punishable by up to a $4,000 fine, one year in jail, or both.
What Is A Third-Degree Felony Under Texas DWI Laws?
A third-degree felony is charged if you've previously been convicted once of intoxication manslaughter, a similar out-of-state offense, or twice of any other offense related to operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
What Happens If I Cause Serious Bodily Injury To A Firefighter Or An Emergency Medical Services Person While Intoxicated?
If you cause serious bodily injury to a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel while in the discharge of their official duty, your offense is considered a second-degree felony.
What Happens If I Cause Serious Bodily Injury To A Peace Officer Or A Judge While Intoxicated?
If you cause serious bodily injury to a peace officer or a judge while they're discharging their official duty, your offense is elevated to a first-degree felony.
What Is The Penalty If I Cause A Traumatic Brain Injury While Driving Intoxicated?
If you cause serious bodily injury to another person in the form of a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state, you can be charged with a second-degree felony.
What If My Previous DWI Conviction Is From Another State?
Texas law considers offenses under the laws of other states that prohibit the operation of a vehicle while intoxicated. The exact charge in Texas would depend on the nature and number of your out-of-state offenses and their equivalence under Texas law.
If I Get A Second DWI Within Five Years, Are There Additional Consequences?
Yes, if you're convicted of a second or subsequent DWI offense within five years, the court can order the installation of a device in your vehicle that prevents operation if it detects alcohol in your breath.
What Does It Mean If My Conviction Is Used For 'Enhancement'?
If you're convicted of an offense, that conviction can be used for 'enhancement,' which means it can lead to stiffer penalties if you're later charged with another similar offense. This is applicable whether the sentence for the conviction was imposed or probated.
DWI Lawyer In Williamson County
Facing a DWI charge in Texas can be a daunting experience, but you don't have to go through it alone. The attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC stand ready to provide sound legal guidance honed over decades of professional practice. With a wealth of experience that spans over 100 years, they have successfully navigated more than 25,000 criminal and family law cases and over 370 jury trials. Their rich background includes serving as prosecutors, judges, and even public office appointees across Texas, appointments made by Presidents, Governors, and Mayors. This depth of experience uniquely equips them to deliver results and steer your case towards the most favorable outcome. Following a DWI arrest, call 512-991-0576 or get in touch with a Cofer & Connelly, PLLC criminal defense attorney online. At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, experience, knowledge, and a commitment to your defense are just a call or click away.
"Excellent all around. Highly recommend."W. N.
"I am eternally grateful for all of the efforts they put in to go above and beyond for everyone they help."Former Client
"They really listen to and care about their client's needs and consistently fight for the best outcome! I am eternally grateful for all of the effort they put in to go above and beyond for everyone they help."C.D.
103 Years of Experience