Driving While Intoxicated in San Antonio

Persistent and Passionate Attorneys Dedicated to Your Fight

At the Krause Law Firm, we strive for dismissals of our clients’ unfair or wrongful charges. We are a women-led firm that seeks to develop creative solutions to our clients’ complicated criminal charges, and we prioritize our clients’ best interests as we build a compassionate case for them in court as they fight their DWI accusation.

What Constitutes DWI?

Texas law prohibits all motorists from operating a motor vehicle while they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Texas also has “zero tolerance” laws making it illegal for underage drivers (those under 21 years old) to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.

Note that it is an important distinction to know that having a drink and then driving is not a crime in the state of Texas. Instead, the law clearly states that a person is only guilty of a crime if they drive while intoxicated. Intoxication is defined in three ways in Texas:

  • a person had over a .08% BAC on either a breath or a blood test at the time of driving.;
  • a person has lost the normal use of their mental faculties; or
  • they have lost the normal use of their physical faculties due to the introduction of an intoxicant.

The State has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was intoxicated at the time of driving. Since any tests that are given to a driver are much later in time than the time they were driving, there are some arguments that the state cannot prove what the blood alcohol level was at the time of driving or operation of the vehicle. Note that operation does not have to include driving; that is, an officer does not have to see someone actually drive a vehicle to prove operation. If a key is in the ignition and the vehicle is on, an officer may presume operation.

Sobriety Tests and Sentencing

One thing an officer tries to do in every DWI investigation is have a person submit to standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). The purpose of SFSTs is to prove a person lacks the normal use of their physical or mental faculties. We advise individual not to submit to them, because if an officer is asking you to do SFSTs, he probably has already decided the person is intoxicated and plans to arrest them. So, all SFSTs will do is help the officer prove the case later.

In any case, it is important to know what the SFTSs will consist of if you do submit to them. SFSTs include three tests – the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the Walk and Turn test, and the One Leg Stand test. Particularly the latter two tests are not designed for people to do very well on them.

The HGN test checks for nystagmus in a person’s eyes (the involuntary jerking of one’s eyes caused by the introduction of alcohol into their body). The next test, the Walk and Turn Test, begins with an officer having the individual stand in an unnatural position and then instructing them to walk forward. The final test given is the One Leg Stand Test, in which the officer will instruct a person to stand on one leg with their hands flush to their side, looking at their foot and counting. The foot should be parallel to the ground. Losing balance while in this unnatural position provides for them further evidence of intoxication.

If an officer pulls a driver over and smells alcohol, the driver will likely go to jail for DWI regardless of how well they might perform on the above tests. After all, the tests are not designed for anyone to do well on them, so even a person under the legal limit might make mistakes on the tests that can be used against them later. As a result, even if a person thinks they are completely sober and will nail the SFSTs, we advise individuals to say no. Provide the officer their driver’s license and proof of insurance and tell them they will consent to nothing and do not wish to speak to them any further. This will better aid the individual and their defense attorney by giving officers as little evidence against them as possible. Note that there is a license revocation process, and the defendant has 15 days from the day of arrest to request an ALR hearing. Hiring an attorney immediately will allow them to act on that hearing, which could be very important to the consequences of the case.

The penalties for a DWI conviction, if not dismissed, depend on the severity of the incident and the number of prior offenses:

  • 1st offense – 72 hours to 6 months in jail (12-month maximum with BAC of .15% or more); fines up to $2,000 (or up to $4,000 with BAC .15% or more); 90 days to 12 months of license suspension; ignition interlock device (IID) as a condition of obtaining an occupational license
  • 2nd offense – 30 days to 12 months in jail; up to $4,000 in fines; 180 days to 2 years of license suspension; 1 year of IID use (with a prior conviction within 5 years)
  • 3rd offense – 2 to 10 years in jail; fines up to $10,000; 180 days to 2 years of license suspension; IID use for 1 year (with a prior conviction within 5 years)

Let Us Defend You in Court

If you are facing a DWI charge in San Antonio, contact the Krause Law Firm immediately for legal support. Whether you have time to request an ALR or are already past the time limit to do so, our attorneys can assess your case and plan the best next steps to defend you against an unfair charge. We will do our best to facilitate a dismissal and deliver a compassionate argument for your case.