If you have been arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you face severe consequences and tight deadlines. Seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

Failing to act quickly could result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license, so do not wait to engage a legal representative. A capable McKinney DUI lawyer at Barbieri Law Firm, PLLC can act promptly to preserve your driving privileges and begin building an effective defense.

Understanding Criminal DUI/DWI Laws

Texas Penal Code §106.41 defines the crime of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). If someone under the legal drinking age operates a motor vehicle on public roads with a detectable quantity of alcohol in their blood, DUI is the charge. However, if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds .08, they could face a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge.

Texas Penal Code §49.04 defines DWI as operating a motor vehicle with a BAC exceeding .08 or while the driver’s judgment and ability are impaired because of drugs or alcohol. Thus, the driver’s BAC does not have to exceed the legal limit to merit a DWI charge. If the arresting officer has evidence that intoxication has affected the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle, the officer could make an arrest on a DWI charge.

Penalties

A first DUI offense is a Class C misdemeanor and could lead to a $500 fine. A sentence could include mandatory attendance of an alcohol awareness program and community service work. A judge could impose jail time for subsequent DUI offenses.

The penalty for an initial DWI is three days to six months in jail, but the jail sentence could be longer if the offender’s BAC was .15 or higher. A judge also could order an initial offender to pay a fine of up to $3000 if the offender’s BAC was less than .15. If their BAC was .15 or more, the potential fine increases to $6,000.

Penalties increase substantially for subsequent offenses. A second DWI conviction leads to a jail sentence of 30 days to one year and a fine of up to $4,500. The sentence for a third conviction is two to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Note that there is no time limit on prior offenses—a DWI conviction decades in the past counts as an initial offense, and a subsequent conviction would be subject to enhanced penalties as a repeat offense.

Administrative Processes in DUI/DWI Cases

When a driver is cited for DUI or DWI, they must request an Administrative License Revocation hearing within 15 days of the arrest. Failing to request the hearing results in an automatic license suspension. If a McKinney DUI defense lawyer gets involved soon after an arrest, they can submit the hearing request and represent the driver’s best interests at the hearing.

A legal representative can also subpoena the arresting officer to testify. If the officer appears, the attorney can cross-examine them to elicit testimony that might be favorable to the driver or erode the officer’s credibility. This testimony could be useful in later negotiations regarding the criminal charges. If the subpoenaed officer does not appear for the hearing, the driver automatically prevails and will not suffer a license suspension.

Defending a DUI/DWI in McKinney

Drivers sometimes plead guilty to DUI or DWI charges because their BAC exceeded the legal limit, and they believe their case is indefensible. This is an erroneous belief. Depending on the circumstances, a McKinney DWI attorney at our firm can arrange a reduced charge or dismissal of all charges, despite a high BAC test result.

First-offenders could be eligible for deferred adjudication. The accused must plead no contest to the charge and accept a probationary period that often includes alcohol and drug awareness education. If the driver completes the program, the charges are dismissed, and the driver does not have a criminal record. However, the arrest will count as a prior offense if the driver is arrested for a DWI-related offense in the future.

In other cases, an experienced legal professional can challenge an officer’s skill in administering a field sobriety test or the accuracy of lab results. They can present any mitigating circumstances to the prosecutor to convince them to drop or reduce the charge. If the arresting officer testified at the license suspension hearing, their testimony could provide helpful information to the defense.

Trust a McKinney DWI Attorney to Handle Your Case

Pleading guilty to a DUI or DWI could unleash a flood of unintended consequences. Engaging a McKinney DUI lawyer can lead to a much better result.

Contact a local legal professional at Barbieri Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible after your arrest. With our help, you can retain your driving privileges and avoid the harsh penalties that come with DUI/DWI convictions.

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