Has a friend or family member recently been arrested on suspicion of DWI? If so, you may be feeling scared about his or her future and unsure of what you can do to help. It's important to remember that your loved one is probably also quite shaken by his or her arrest. Learning about DWIs in Houston and offering your support can make a world of difference during this very difficult time. Houston DWI Specialist Doug Murphy is an expert in assisting good people arrested for DWI thought Texas.
Understanding DWI Law in Texas
The more you know about Texas DWI law and procedure, the better you can help your friend or family member after the DWI arrest. In Texas, there are two ways you can be arrested for DWI: per se intoxication and circumstantial evidence of impairment.
Per Se Intoxication
A driver will be considered intoxicated and in violation of Texas state law if they drive a vehicle when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit. For most adults, the limit is .08 percent. If police believe that a driver is intoxicated, he or she will ask for that driver to consent to a breath and/or blood test. Positive breath or blood tests reflecting a BAC in excess of the legal limit can be used as evidence in criminal proceedings for DWI charges.
Circumstantial Evidence of Impairment
You may not know that drivers can also be arrested for DWI even if their BAC isn't above the legal limit. Intoxication does not necessarily have to involve alcohol. Drugs can also impair a driver's ability to navigate a car safely, but would likely not show up on a simple breath test or all blood tests.
As a result, state law provides police in Texas with the authority to arrest a driver on suspicion of DWI if they have reason to believe that a driver does “not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.”
What You Can Do: Ask for details about why your friend or family member was arrested on suspicion of DWI. Try to determine if he or she failed chemical testing or if police made the arrest based on circumstantial evidence. The answer to these questions will help to give you a better idea of the charges he or she may face and the type of evidence the state may use to prove your loved one is guilty of DWI.
Important Things to Know About Chemical Testing
Has your friend or family member been arrested on suspicion of DWI and consented to chemical testing? While the results of breath and/or blood tests can be used as evidence in a criminal DWI case, it is important to know that those results may not necessarily be accurate.
You should encourage your friend to speak with an attorney who has experience and success in fighting the reliability and/or admissibility of this kind of evidence. When the state does not have evidence to support its case, it may be forced to drop the criminal DWI charges that were filed against your loved one.
Breath Tests: The results of breath tests can be very unreliable. The breathalyzer instrument must be stored, calibrated, and used in very specific ways. Even the slightest deviation from the proper procedure can throw off the results of any tests performed using that device. Other factors, including the type of breath used for the test; the driver's age, weight, and gender; foreign substances in the mouth; and even prescription drug usage can throw off the accuracy of a DWI breath test. An experienced attorney will be able to identify all factors that may have caused a breath test to reflect inaccurate BAC measurements.
Blood Tests: Blood tests are considered to be much more accurate and reliable than breath tests. However, results can still be inaccurate if procedures and protocols are violated. Improper staff training, failure to mix blood samples with appropriate preservatives and/or anticoagulant agents, and even failing to properly track the sample's chain of custody can make the results of a blood test questionable.
Your friend or family member can only be convicted of DWI if the state proves that he or she is guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is a doubt as to the reliability of the results of chemical blood testing, he or she may be able to escape criminal liability for the alleged DWI.
What You Can Do: Try to learn about what type of chemical testing was used to gather evidence of DWI in your loved one's DWI case. Ask your friend to recount the interaction with police and/or medical staff to see if you can identify any details that seem strange or out of place. If something doesn't seem right to you, you can relay your concerns to an attorney who may be able to use these details to your friend's advantage.
Ask for Details About Your Loved One's Arrest
Sometimes talking through the details of a run-in with police can help to trigger memories, details, or facts that will be helpful in your loved one's DWI defense. Since you have a close relationship, your loved one may feel more comfortable confiding in you about things that are difficult or embarrassing.
These difficult or embarrassing details could be instrumental in his or her criminal DWI defense. You can pass the information along to your friend's attorney or simply encourage him or her to be honest with the legal counsel.
Why Were You Pulled Over?
DWI charges can only stick if police witnessed your friend breaking the law or had reasonable suspicion to believe he or she was intoxicated behind the wheel. Press your friends for details about how the traffic stop unfolded. Did your friend exhibit any unsafe driving behaviors? Was he or she speeding? Weaving between lanes? Rolling through or running stop signs? These are all valid reasons police can execute a traffic stop. However, if your friend didn't break the law and was driving cautiously, police may have lacked a reasonable suspicion that is required to pull a motorist over. Determining the reason for the traffic stop can be helpful in fighting DWI charges.
Did You Try to Refuse Chemical Testing?
In Texas, drivers have the right to refuse to consent to chemical breath and/or blood tests after they've been pulled over on suspicion of DWI. Police cannot force a driver to submit to testing unless he or she has consented or the police have a warrant. If your loved one was forced to take a breath or blood test against his or her will, and there was no search warrant demanding it, the results may not be admissible as evidence. It's important to note, however, that refusing to consent to testing can automatically result in the suspension of your friend's driving privileges.
What Field Sobriety Tests Were Performed? Can You Describe Them?
You may not know that many police officers lack the training that is necessary to properly test the sobriety of a driver in the field. Many officers forget their training over the years and/or become lazy in carrying out strict departmental testing procedures. If field sobriety tests are not administered properly, the results and inferences drawn from those results can be invalidated.
For example, was your friend asked to walk a straight line in front of his or her vehicle? Did police ensure that the space where the test was to be completed was level and free from hazards and debris? Was your friend wearing footwear that could potentially throw off his or her balance and ability to complete the test properly? These are all factors that could be used to show that field sobriety tests are not an accurate reflection of your loved one's intoxication.
Help Your Loved One After a DWI Arrest
Learning about DWI law and procedure, assisting your friend or family member in recalling important details, and aiding in the search for an experienced Houston DWI attorney are all important in helping your loved one after a DWI arrest. However, these things will only be of assistance once your friend or a family member has been released from custody.
Here's how you can help your loved one in the hours and days following his or her Houston DWI arrest:
- Find Out Where He or She Is: Once your loved one has been arrested on suspicion of DWI, he or she will be transported to a local police station and/or jail and held for a period of time. Once you know where he or she is, you can send an attorney to help them navigate police questioning and initial criminal proceedings. Remember to tell them not to speak with police until they have an attorney present.
- Post Bail: Sometimes your loved one can be released on his or her own recognizance following the DWI arrest. Other times, it may be necessary to post bail to secure your loved one's release. Bail is essentially collateral that is paid to ensure that a defendant comes back for all future legal proceedings. If you cannot afford to pay bail on your own, you can seek the assistance of a bail bondsman.
- Call Houston DWI Attorney Specialist Doug Murphy The consequences of DWI in Texas can be quite severe, even for a first-time offense. If you have a loved one facing criminal DWI charges, it is important to hire an experienced Houston DWI attorney to represent him or her. An attorney will thoroughly investigate your loved one's alleged crime, determine where the state's case may be weak, and put together a custom legal strategy for the defense. Any details you can help your loved one remember through discussions about the arrest can be incredibly helpful in this process.
Experienced Houston DWI Attorney
Has a friend or family member recently been arrested on suspicion of DWI in Houston? Your moral and emotional support will be extremely helpful in the days, weeks, and months that follow. However, the single most important thing you can do for your loved one is to find an experienced Houston DWI attorney to handle the criminal case.
Doug Murphy was named the 2021 Lawyer of the Year for his expertise in DWI cases inclusion in Best Lawyers in America published in US News and World Report. Doug Murphy is a Board Certified DWI defense attorney and has been successfully handling the most complex Houston DWI matters for nearly two decades. If you have a loved one facing criminal DWI charges in Houston, you want Doug Murphy by your side. He has the skills, knowledge, and specialized experience that are necessary to achieve the best possible result in your loved ones' Houston DWI case. Call the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today to schedule a free consultation.