Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
James M. Warner has handled intoxication offenses as a criminal defense attorney, as well as a former prosecutor. Often, a person incurring their first intoxication offense has never been in trouble with or violated the law; therefore, this can be a very traumatic and difficult process to undergo, especially since a plea to Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), even as a first offense, will require a conviction on your record, which cannot be removed by an expunction or non-disclosure of criminal records. Also, an intoxication offense can cause an increase in the cost or cancellation of your automobile insurance. Mr. Warner provides aggressive representation for those accused of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and DWI offenses to assist clients avoid the harsh and tough penalties, whenever possible, incurred from these charges.
James M. Warner will, amongst other things, do the following for his clients accused of DUI and DWI:
- Fight to maintain your Texas driver's license;
- Represent you at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles administrative hearing ("ALR hearing"), where license suspension and revocation are decided;
- Pursue an occupational license, allowing you to comply with your work/professional and family responsibilities;
- Represent you in all other criminal court hearings related to your intoxication offense, including pretrial hearings and trial;
- Explain to you the reliability of Breathalyzer and Blood tests, together with field sobriety tests, and fight for the suppression/exclusion of these tests from evidence when warranted;
- Determine whether probable cause existed for the traffic stop, preceding your arrest for DWI;
- Review with you the effects of a Breathalyzer test refusal; and
- Discuss with you the impact of a guilty plea, and entering a plea agreement with the state.
There are many administrative and other deadlines to be aware of, after your DWI arrest. You should hire an attorney within fifteen (15) days of your arrest, so that the attorney may notify the Texas Department of Public Safety ("DPS") that you are contesting your driver's license suspension. The 'ALR' hearing will occur about thirty (30) days or more following your arrest, but it is imperative that either you or your attorney make a request for the hearing within that fifteen (15) day period, or the hearing and the right to the hearing is waived. It is recommended or advantageous to have an attorney at the ALR to discover or obtain some of the evidence, which will be used to support your arrest. If you fail to request or lose an ALR hearing, your license will be suspended from ninety (90) days to two (2) years. Even if the DWI charge is dismissed, your license can still be suspended, due to the ALR hearing and the findings made therein. Also, at the time of your arrest, the office provided you a temporary driving permit, which remains valid for only forty-five (45) days or until you requested your ALR hearing. Altogether, it is worthwhile retaining legal counsel, soon after your arrest and before the fifteen (15) day period expires, to explain your rights and duties, as well as represent you at the ALR hearing.
If convicted, the penalties for DWI are harsh, including a fine of up to $2,000 for a first offense, and $4,000 for a second offense. You can also be incarcerated for three to 6 months in jail for the first offense, and one month to one year for the second offense. James M. Warner will challenge and contest the evidence, supporting the charges against you, to attempt to avoid such harsh penalties, that will disrupt and could even permanently damage your professional/work life, not to mention deprive you of your freedom. Mr. Warner will carefully determine the basis for the stop. Most of the time, the accused was stopped for minor traffic offenses, including speeding, weaving or failure to maintain a traffic lane. Sometimes, the law enforcement officer did not have a valid reason for the traffic stop. Consequently, Mr. Warner will file a motion to suppress, showing the court the lack of a valid reason legally required to stop or pull you over. A motion to suppress, on this basis, will be dispositive of the case, compelling a dismissal of the charges against you. Invalid reasons include, among other things, driving slower than the posted speed limit, when there is no posted minimum speed, or weaving within your driving lane.
If the court does not suppress or exclude the basis for your traffic stop, Mr. Warner will review the tests completed to determine your alleged intoxication. In Texas, the Intoxilyzer 5000 is the machine used to assess your blood alcohol concentration. If your breath sample exceeds .08, then you are above the legal limit. If the machine was not properly operated or maintained, or even if you have certain medical conditions, the breath test may be artificially high or show a false positive for intoxication. For example, an accused may have increased alcohol laden breath, based upon a gastro esophagus disorder (reflux) or dental appliances. There are also chemical compounds, containing carbon and hydrogen atoms, that when combined into a CH3 bonding pattern will be potentially recognized as "alcohol" molecules within the breath sample chamber. If so, the breath test will produce a result above the actual alcohol concentration in the blood. Some of these chemicals are nail polish remover, auto body paint, floor refinisher and strippers, solvents and petrochemical produces. Mr. Warner will explore these issues before and during trial. Importantly, an effective DWI attorney takes a detailed factual statement from his clients, examining any factors contributing to an elevated alcohol concentration in the blood, before assuming that the test produced a valid, uncompromised result. By impeaching the breath test result, through cross-examination of the State's technical supervisor-intoxilyzer expert, Mr. Warner will attempt to secure an acquittal in a DWI trial.
Sometimes, there is a videotape capturing your stop, detention and other interactions between you and law enforcement. The on-board videos of your Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) are a record of, most of the time, what was said and done, before, during and after your DWI arrest. Mr. Warner obtains and reviews the video to determine if the video is consistent with the officer's narrative of the basis for your arrest contained in the police report. Quite often, police officers do not follow the standards and guidelines from their official training in identifying an intoxicated driver. The officer may have failed to properly instruct you, or even indicated that you did not perform the tests properly when you did so. Sometimes, by excluding parts of the state's case against you, the case may be eventually dismissed or at least a jury may render a not guilty verdict.