Have you been arrested for a DUI in Texas? This guide is here to help. Learn what your next steps should be and if you should contact an attorney here.
Your night started relaxed and carefree, but before you know it, you see red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. Your stomach drops, your heart starts beating faster, and you begin to feel flushed. Getting pulled over is always stressful, but especially when you’ve had a few drinks.
You’re sitting in your car panicking. You’ve never even gotten a speeding ticket before, and now you’re afraid that you’re going to jail.
Many people who get DUI charges in Texas don’t set out to commit a crime, it can happen innocently. You go to get a drink with friends after work and the next thing you know, you’re pulled over on the side of the road.
DUIs, especially in Texas, are serious matters. They can affect your life long after that careless night and significantly impact the people around you as well. If you do get arrested for a DUI, we’ll tell you what you can expect from the legal process and how to make sure that DUI doesn’t ruin you and your family’s lives.
1. Know What a DUI in League City, TX Means
In Texas, driving under the influence reaches the level of “legally intoxicated” when your blood alcohol concentration reaches 0.08 percent. When you get pulled over, the officer will most likely attempt to administer a breathalyzer test. If you blow a 0.08 or higher, you will most likely be arrested for drunk driving.
The 0.08 percent BAC isn’t as hard to reach as you think. Women and lighter-weight people can reach a 0.08 by consuming one or two drinks in an hour. That’s why if you have any doubt about your ability to drive a car after drinking, it’s best to err on the side of caution and find another way home; the cost of a cab is much less than the fine you’ll likely get if you’re caught drinking and driving.
The number of DUI offenses that you currently have determines the severity of the fine you receive and the accompanying punishment. If you are charged with your first offense, the fines associated with a DUI charge won’t be nearly as steep as your third offense.
You’ll most likely have a fine of up to $2,000, possible jail time of up to 180 days, a license suspension, and a DUI education program.
However, if you have a child in the car with you when you get pulled over, the charges and fines will be significantly steeper. If the child in your car when you’re pulled over is under 15, you’ll receive a child endangerment charge, a fine up to $10,000, and could serve up to 2 years in jail.
Needless to say, if you’re uncertain about your ability to drive a car after drinking, you should not have your children in the car with you.
2. Know What to Do if You Get Pulled Over
If and when you get pulled over, it may not be because you were driving erratically and running stop signs. You could be pulled over for a routine traffic stop and find yourself being arrested for a DUI.
Some people can reach a 0.08 BAC by having just a few drinks in a short period, so even if you think you’re okay to drive and blow a breathalyzer, it may end up being over the legal limit.
Sobriety tests are meant to be objective and fair, but in reality, they are very flawed. The uneven application of sobriety tests by officers in the field means that even if they determine that you are intoxicated (and they probably will), you won’t automatically receive the maximum punishment for a DUI.
That’s why you should always contact a criminal defense attorney if you are arrested for a DUI.
It’s important to be cooperative with the officer that’s pulling you over, but you also don’t want to do anything that will hurt your case if you end up getting arrested for a DUI. It can be difficult to stay calm, but remaining level-headed is the best way for you to give yourself a good chance of reducing your charges or getting them dismissed altogether.
3. Know Your Rights
If you’ve never been pulled over before, or never pulled over for a suspected DUI, you might not be familiar with your rights surrounding these types of incidents. DUIs and DWIs can have a significant impact on your life, so you should know what you can do if you are.
One very important thing you should know when you get pulled over for suspicion of a DUI is that you do not have to blow into the breathalyzer. Refusing to blow doesn’t mean that you are admitting guilt, and it’s not a crime to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. You won’t immediately get off the hook, but it may be much easier to defend yourself and the consequences may not be as severe as if you did blow.
If you do refuse to perform a sobriety test when you get pulled over, you may have your driver’s license confiscated. This is the normal procedure if a sobriety test or breathalyzer is not performed. After you talk to your attorney, they can tell you what your next legal steps are.
You should also know that it is illegal to have an open container in your vehicle at all times. This is especially important because if you have an open container in your car, the officer may be able to forego a breathalyzer test and go straight to charging you with a DUI for the open container.
4. Understand the Legal Process for DUIs in Texas
Getting pulled over for a DUI doesn’t automatically mean that it will end in an arrest, but if you are arrested in Texas, it helps to know what to expect. After a drunk driving arrest, there are two separate legal proceedings that will be put into motion. These are administrative proceedings and criminal cases.
The administrative penalties often include suspending your license and issuing a Notice of Suspension, which allows you to drive, but only functions as a temporary permit. If you decide to fight this suspension, you’ll have to attend a hearing, which your criminal defense lawyer can help you prepare for.
Texas classifies the first DUI offense as a Class B Misdemeanor, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. It can be easier sometimes to get a first offense DUI charge dropped because you are not a repeat offender yet.
That doesn’t mean that second and third offenses are impossible to beat, but they will be more challenging.
Even as a first offense, a DUI charge can follow you and your family for a very long time and affect your ability to find work and live your life normally. Fines and penalties can begin to add up if you don’t keep up with the different steps required to contest your DUI charge.
That’s why it’s so important to have an aggressive criminal defense lawyer that will work hard for you.
5. Do Your Research and Find a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer
Not every law firm specializes in criminal defense for Texas DWIs and DUIs. Being charged with a DUI can be extremely stressful, but looking around and consulting with a few different lawyers that specialize in criminal defense for DUIs can make all the difference in the world. It’s not your job to understand the complicated legal processes in Texas, that’s where your attorney comes in.
The truth is that many of the laws surrounding DUIs in Texas are very complicated, and each case is very different, so having an experienced team of Texas attorneys behind you is key. You may feel like you need to find representation as soon as possible but you shouldn’t choose the first lawyer you find in an online search.
After speaking with a legal team, you’ll be able to get a feel of what they will do to fight for you and if you feel comfortable trusting them to represent you.
Ideally, you’d want to find a law firm that has a proven record of successfully defending others who have been in your situation. Of course, they won’t be able to guarantee similar results in your case, but if they know how to effectively defend cases like yours, you can feel much more confident in their ability to defend you.
Need Representation? We’re Here to Help
The legal team at Scott M. Brown and Associates is ready to help you fight for your future. We know how devastating a DUI charge can be on your record and we believe that a foolish mistake that you made one night shouldn’t ruin your life. I
f you’re in need of a criminal defense lawyer following a DUI in Texas, contact us to see if we can help.