Several myths and misconceptions are circulated about DWIs. They range from how you can avoid a conviction if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below 0.08 to how a DWI isn’t that serious. Some of these mistaken beliefs can substantially impact your case and its outcome.
To help you better understand DWI charges and processes in Texas, we debunk a few of these myths in this blog. Although we cover a bit of information, we recognize that you might have other questions about your case.
Myth #1: A DWI Isn’t That Serious
The idea that a DWI charge isn’t that serious is harmful. It can cause a person to be lax in challenging the accusations.
Being accused of a DWI is serious, whether it’s a first or subsequent alleged violation. If convicted, you could be sentenced to confinement, ordered to pay fines, and/or subject to a driver’s license suspension. Additionally, a misdemeanor or felony will appear on your criminal record, creating hurdles for you later.
As with any criminal charge, with a DWI, it’s important that you hire a defense attorney to help fight the allegations against you.
Myth #2: You Can Avoid a DWI Charge by Refusing a Blood or Breath Test
After you’re arrested for a DWI, the officer may direct you to submit a specimen for a blood or breath test. Under Texas’s implied consent law, you have given permission to be subject to either assessment. That said, you can refuse. But your refusal won’t result in your avoiding a DWI charge.
Although you might have refused to participate in a blood or breath test, the prosecutor can use other evidence to justify bringing charges. They may cite the arresting officer’s observations. They can even submit your refusal as evidence against you.
Myth #3: You Won’t Be Charged with a DWI If You Weren’t Showing Signs of Impairment
Alcohol affects people differently. Whereas someone might be stumbling around or slurring their speech at a certain BAC level, you might not. However, even if it doesn’t appear that you are impaired, if your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you can still be charged with a DWI.
Myth #4: You Have to Participate in the Roadside Assessments
At the time of your DWI stop, the police officer might direct you to step out of the vehicle and participate in a few roadside assessments. These can include a preliminary alcohol screening (handheld breath test) and/or field sobriety tests. The officer uses the information gathered from the assessments to determine whether probable cause exists to arrest you.
Unlike the evidentiary tests given following an arrest, you are not required to participate in the roadside tests. You can politely decline them without facing criminal penalties.
Still, declining the roadside tests won’t necessarily help you avoid a DWI arrest. The officer can rely on other evidence to justify taking you into custody.
Myth #5: You Have to Answer All of the Officer’s Questions
During the initial DWI stop or following your arrest, the police officer will likely ask you a series of questions. The law enforcement official might make it seem that you must answer them. You’re not.
You have the right to remain silent, regardless of whether you’re under arrest. You do not have to provide statements beyond giving your name, address, and date of birth.
Remaining silent can prevent you from providing authorities with information they could use against you. For instance, you might unknowingly say something the officer interprets as an admission of guilt, or officials might point to inconsistencies between your earlier statements and later remarks.
If you choose to stay quiet during an officer’s questioning, you must explicitly state that you are exercising your rights.
Myth #6: You Can Only Get Convicted of a DWI If Your BAC Was 0.08 or More
Many people associate a DWI with having a BAC of 0.08 or more. While this is one way a person can be charged with the offense, it’s not the only one. Under Texas law, a person also commits a violation if their normal faculties are impaired by alcohol and/or drugs and they operate a motor vehicle.
In other words, having a BAC below 0.08 doesn’t prevent the prosecution from seeking or obtaining a DWI conviction.
Myth #7: Your DWI Case Is Unwinnable If You Took a Chemical Test
Chemical tests include blood or breath analyses given following an arrest. The results indicate the level of alcohol a person had in their system. However, even if an elevated BAC is detected, that doesn’t mean the case is unwinnable.
The results of a chemical analysis are not 100% accurate all of the time. Various factors, such as improper procedures followed or a poorly calibrated device, can affect the outcome.
You can still fight your charge if you blew into a machine or gave a blood sample.
Bonus Myth: You Can Trick a Breath Test
A widespread misconception is that you can “beat” a breath test by chewing gum, gargling mouthwash, or even sucking on a penny. None of these methods will actually interfere with the analysis.
A breath test machine analyzes the air deep within a person’s lungs to determine BAC level. Anything you put in your mouth after you have been drinking may mask the odor of alcohol and could affect your mouth alcohol level. Still, it won’t affect the air in your lungs.
Schedule a Consultation with Deandra Grant Law
If you’re facing a DWI charge in Dallas, speak with one of our attorneys about your case. We can thoroughly explain what the charge means and your legal options.
Please call us at (214) 225-7117 or submit an online contact form today.