Impaired driving charges are some of the most common criminal cases pursued in the state of Texas, including Bexar County. Drivers who fail roadside tests, who drive in concerningly erratic manners and who cause crashes while under the influence of alcohol can face criminal consequences including sizable fines, incarceration and driver’s license suspension.
Despite being relatively common, drunk driving charges are the subject of many urban legends and myths. People don’t usually know much about drunk driving cases and may make mistakes when responding to a recent arrest as a result. These are some of the most common misconceptions about impaired driving charges in Texas.
Misconception: DUI and DWI are the same offense
Some people use the terms driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) interchangeably. However, Texas differentiates between these two offenses. An underage driver with alcohol in their bloodstream will face DUI charges. An adult demonstrating impairment or over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration will face DWI charges.
Misconception: A guilty plea ensures lenience
A surprising number of people accused of DWI and DUI offenses will plead guilty because they think that doing so will lead to a more favorable outcome. However, a guilty plea puts someone at the mercy of the judge hearing their case. Many judges will impose harsh penalties even in drunk driving cases where someone does not have a prior criminal record. A first DWI offense could lead to $2,000 in fines and between three and 180 days in state custody.
Misconception: Licensing penalties are optional
A surprising number of people accused of impaired driving believe that they won’t have any lifestyle consequences after a guilty plea or conviction. However, driver’s license suspension is a standard penalty in most DUI and DWI cases. The more prior offenses someone has on their record, the longer they will lose their driving privileges.
Misconception: There is no way to fight drunk driving charges
The final misconception that many people have about impaired driving is the mistaken belief that a guilty plea is necessary because a conviction is inevitable. Someone’s questionable breath test results or poor performance on field sobriety tests will automatically lead to a conviction. There are many ways for defense attorneys to raise questions about the reliability and test results or even exclude them from a criminal trial when police officers violate someone’s rights or make other mistakes. Instead of pleading guilty and hoping for the best, many people would likely benefit from mounting a rigorous defense to DUI or DWI charges in Texas.
Learning the truth about common misconceptions about drunk driving might help people to more effectively respond to their circumstances after an arrest. Seeking legal guidance promptly is a good way to achieve this kind of clarity.