We recently had a chance to catch up with experienced criminal defense attorney, Travis Fleetwood, who represents a growing number of Texas drivers who find themselves in a tough spot after an evening out enjoying drinks with friends and/or family. We first asked him for some sage advice of the free variety about what to do if and when we find ourselves in that predicament. And then we asked him to answer a few of the most common questions people ask related to DUI / DWI. Pay attention, because what you read here may just save your rear end down the road.
What are the three biggest pieces of free advice you would offer prospective clients who are pulled over and/or charged with DWI?
Refuse, Refuse, and Refuse. That being said most rural counties we work in are “non refusal” counties. They will have a judge on call, but that judge doesn’t always respond, and if you are one of the lucky few that refuses and there is no subsequent search warrant issued, then your chances of an outright dismissal grow exponentially.
Second, be polite and respectful. Do not talk too much or offer unsolicited information, but maintain your right to not incriminate yourself by refusing all field sobriety tests and requests for specimens of your breath and blood. The one caveat to this is if law enforcement presents you with a warrant — then at that point you must allow the blood to be drawn or risk being charged with a separate criminal offense.
Third, call us (or your favorite, competent attorney) as soon as possible due to your Administrative License Revocation (ALR) deadlines — you only have 15 days from the date of your arrest to contest your ALR suspension.
Commonly Asked DUI / DWI Related Questions
What’s the difference between DWI and DUI?
DUI applies only to persons under the age of 21, while DWI applies to anyone regardless of age. The second biggest difference is easily explained but has to do with the difference is the “I”, Intoxication (DWI) versus Influence (DUI). With regards to DUI a person under 21 can be charged with DUI with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. In other words, the 0.08 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) rule does not apply. All it takes is the smell of alcohol because the person is under 21 years of age. With regards to DWI, intoxication has a legal definition — a BAC of 0.08 or greater and/or the loss of the normal use of your mental or physical facilities.
What happens on your first DWI in Texas?
It depends on many variables and is completely case-specific. If charged as a Class B misdemeanor the range of punishment is from 0-180 days in the county jail and a fine not to exceed $2000, or probation not to exceed two years. That being said, there are many more collateral consequences of a DWI and possible convictions that include issues like enhancements, super fines, driver’s license suspensions, surcharges, and numerous other concerns. This is why we suggest hiring a competent criminal defense attorney.
How long does a DWI case take in Texas?
On average (here in the rural counties we serve) 60 to 180 days.
How long does a DWI stay on your record?
If convicted, forever. But not all DWI arrests result in convictions.
Can I get my DWI conviction expunged?
No, unless the case is dismissed or you are found not guilty at trial — in other words, no conviction.
Is DWI a Felony?
Yes, if you have had two previous DWI convictions and are arrested for a third DWI, it will very likely be charged as a felony offense.