There’s a common perception that everyone charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) is probably guilty. After all, the average person believes that breath tests are accurate and that law enforcement won’t make mistakes during a field sobriety test. The truth is that neither breath tests nor police officers are infallible.
It is possible for a test to record a false positive, just like it’s possible for a cop to miss a reasonable explanation for certain issues, like diabetes or other medical conditions.
Pleading guilty may not be in your best interest
You may think that it’s impossible to fight a DWI. That belief, in turn, could make you think that your best option is to plead guilty. You may think that will save you time and money and avoid the embarrassment of a court case.
Unfortunately, pleading guilty can wreak utter havoc to your professional and social life. Instead of pleading guilty, you should explore all your defense options.
Criminal penalties for DWI can be harsh
Another common myth about DWI charges is that first time offenders could get treated with leniency by the courts. In reality, the penalties for a first time DWI offense are meant to deter you and others from getting behind the wheel after drinking.
A first DWI offense can result in a fine of up to $2,000, between three and 180 days in jail, the loss of your license for up to a year, and fees of either $1,000 or $2,000 each year for three years to retain your driving privileges. A second DWI charge carries a fine of up to $4,000, between a month and a year in jail, loss of your license for two years and the fees to retain your license for three years. If both offenses were within a five year period, Texas courts will order you to install an ignition interlock system in your vehicle.
A third DWI charge carries a fine of up to $10,000, between two and ten years in prison, loss of your license for two years and fees to retain your license after that.
Other factors can result in enhanced penalties
If you were driving with a child in the car at the time that you were stopped, you could face even steeper penalties. If a crash or accident resulted, especially if there were injuries or a fatality, you could face additional charges and penalties.
Obviously, the safest thing to do is to avoid getting behind the wheel after drinking. It’s important to remember, however, that certain medical conditions or other issues could result in an inaccurate roadside sobriety test or breath test. You deserve a defense against the charges, particularly if you were not actually under the influence when you got pulled over. If the police made a mistake or your rights were violated, it could result in a dismissal of the charge or reduction to a nonalcohol driving offense.
Before you decide to plead guilty, speak with an experienced DWI defense attorney.