Having fun with your friends can be a wonderful thing. After a year in isolation, we all deserve to spend silly, quality time with those we care about, and for those of us over 21, that quality time may involve alcohol. While having a few brews with friends, we should be aware of how alcohol consumption lowers our inhibitions and encourages us to take risks we probably shouldn’t take.
Driving while intoxicated, no matter how deserted the roads or how much of an “expert” you are at it, is a bad and dangerous idea. It puts your life and the lives of everyone else on the roads at risk, and if you are caught – especially if you were involved in a collision – you could face life-altering penalties and consequences. A DWI conviction can be a stain on your reputation at best, and a costly, prison-worthy felony at worst. Understand the risks so you may avoid needing to take them.
A DWI felony conviction can derail your life
While there is no “good” or “minor” kind of DWI conviction, it is true that not all of them are felony offenses. People – namely those prone to adrenaline-raising risks – may falsely assume this means getting caught is no big deal as long as it’s your first offense (or even your second), and that imagined lack of accountability encourages them to try it for themselves. However, this is a dangerous misunderstanding, and can land someone in water much hotter than they anticipated.
The following charges are felony DWI charges in Texas:
- Intoxication assault, when driving or operating any sort of vehicle under the influence leads to the serious bodily harm of another. This is a third-degree felony, but may be raised to second or even first depending on the circumstances of the case.
- Intoxication manslaughter applies when the above scenario leads to death. No intent is necessary for this, which is what separates manslaughter from murder. That makes it a second-degree felony.
- Third-time offense, which is an automatic felony DWI. If you are charged with a DWI for the third time, even if no one was injured, it is now a third-degree felony.
- Driving while intoxicated with a minor passenger refers to any intoxicated driving done with a passenger under the age of 15 in the car with you. This is known as an enhanced charge for a state jail felony. You may avoid time in an actual prison, but you will find yourself behind bars for up to two years.
Being convicted of any one of these felonies can cost you your savings, your license, and your freedom — and not just while you serve time. Felony convictions typically lead to a hefty amount of collateral damage that can follow you for the rest of your life, such as alienation, lack of employment, and lack of housing, and all that is alongside the actual legal ramifications you may face. Even if driving under the influence didn’t kill as many people as it does, there are plenty of other consequences to deter you from giving it a try.
Drunk driving fatalities on the rise
Reckless driving of all sorts has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic, especially in states with long open roads that are hard to consistently monitor. And, as one may suspect, people are paying the price on both sides of the fence. Right here in Texas, 2020 saw over 900 DWI/DUI related fatalities – roughly about one death every nine hours. Waco ranks #4 in the state for alcohol-impaired accidents resulting in death or serious injury.
What should I do if there is a DWI checkpoint ahead?
It is safe to assume, especially with the holidays right around the corner, that this will lead to increased “no refusal” checkpoints and DWI stops. Do not admit to drinking, but know that you may be asked to submit to a breath or blood test. You have the right to refuse the test, just as you have the right to refuse to have your car searched, but law enforcement may seek a warrant to force your hand, and you cannot deny a warrant.
However, if there is a way to legally avoid a DWI checkpoint, you are allowed to do so. Under the law, these checkpoints must be posted so that the public knows they are there. You cannot be stopped for legally avoiding a checkpoint, such as making a legal turn to take a different route home. Furthermore, there is precedent in Texas (Regina H. Holt vs the State of Texas) to argue that DWI checkpoints are unconstitutional. If you are stopped, we will argue that the stop itself violated your 4th Amendment rights, and fight to have the evidence suppressed.
But if your mistake has already been made, and now you are staring at a DWI charge, we are here to fight for you. The Killeen DWI defense attorneys at Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm aren’t here to judge you, but to help. We want to make sure your voice is heard and your rights are protected. To learn more about how we can help, call us today at 254-680-4655 or via our contact form. Do not let the other side tell your story for you, and make you pay the price. We maintain an additional office in Copperas Cove for your convenience.
I’ve dedicated my legal career to defending my clients. I demand all the evidence. I investigate all the facts, the so-called witnesses and even the police officers. I make it my business to know the law. Cases can be won or lost before you even set foot inside the courtroom.
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