As with all criminal cases, a person accused of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, regardless of the evidence stacked against you, everyone deserves their day in court.
A good attorney knows what can and can’t be presented before a jury, depending on the rules of evidence in any Texas courtroom. Attorney Stephen T Bowling and his legal team are seasoned DWI case experts who will put up a fight to have your case expunged.
What’s Texas’ DWI Law?
Texas Penal Code states that “A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.” The keyword in the code is “intoxicated.” According to the law, it means:
- not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or
- having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more
While these statutes might seem damning, they can be a double-edged sword. To beat off the prosecution, your attorney needs to prove that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.08 when driving, or you weren’t within your right state of mind due to substance ingestion.
Getting Around State Evidence
To get a guilty conviction, the state of Texas has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove your motor vehicle while intoxicated. Whether or not you’ll be acquitted of the charges is dependent on if the jury deems the evidence sufficient. Your defense, therefore, has to use the following approaches to counter the articles of evidence used against you:
Proving State Evidence Inaccurate
Your lawyer can achieve this by proving the chemical test was improperly conducted or discrediting eyewitness testimonies. Depending on the nature of your case and how proficient your defense attorney is, the judge can have evidence suppressed altogether.
Presenting Contradicting Evidence
Your attorney can alternatively introduce testimonies and pieces of evidence that directly contradict the intoxication allegations.
Evidence Admissible in a Texas DWI Trial
While the evidence used against you might seem conclusive, the jury’s final decision is subject to change based on the allegations’ circumstances. This means that the same evidence can draw different conclusions from two separate juries. This is why a seasoned trial attorney is so crucial to the acquittal process.
Let’s look at the pieces of evidence admissible in a Texas courtroom.
Facts from a Field Sobriety Test
The term “test” is loosely used here. This is because they are a set of coordination and balance exercises conducted by the arresting officer and thus solely subject to his/her judgment. They include:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
- One-leg stand
As they are often conducted in low-light and on non-flat surfaces, they’re prone to error. Cross-examination of the police officer might unearth negligence of the strict guidelines required to acquire objective evidence. Such a turn of events will be beneficial in obtaining an acquittal.
Facts from Chemical Tests Done
These tests involve qualitative analysis of breath, urine, or blood samples. This kind of evidence is more straightforward than other forms as it requires the BAC to be 0.08 or higher for a jury conviction. However, these results aren’t automatically presented to the panel of jurors.
Texas law requires that the samples be acquired appropriately, with all parties involved at any point during the chain of custody be correctly accredited, and that this chain remains unbroken during the entire process. A competent DWI defense attorney will challenge the officer(s) and the lab personnel to uncover any holes in their testimonies.
Your Statements May Be Used Against You
You might be aware of existing rules that prevent hearsay from being used in court, but there are situations where witnesses can testify what’s been said by others. This means that your arresting officer can testify against you if you admitted to taking drugs, drinking alcohol, or being too intoxicated to drive. It’s best to remain silent during the whole arrest process.
The prosecution will use the arresting officer’s recollection of events if no video or audio evidence is recorded. A veteran attorney should be able to cross-examine the officer and effectively challenge the truthfulness of their statements.
The Testimony of Eyewitnesses
These can either work for or against you in a Texan courtroom. While most of the time, the testimonies that dominate the courtroom are what the law enforcement officer and the defendant allege, there’s room for 3rd party testimonies. The Lone Star State may require drivers cruising near you to act as witnesses to your supposed erratic driving. Also, the testimonies of people who saw you drinking alcohol before or during your drive are admissible in court.
In your defense, witnesses who can attest to your sobriety shortly before your drive can shift the case’s momentum in your favor. Additionally, witnesses to a break in the custody of the chemical test can testify.
What Drug Recognition Experts Believe
DWI cases aren’t specific to alcohol. A lot of these charges can be linked to the use of illegal narcotics, sleeping pills, painkillers, or a mixture of substances. The difficulty in assessing these kinds of situations is that there’s no yardstick to quantify the degree of intoxication, as is the case with alcohol and BAC.
This has necessitated using a drug recognition expert to recognize the signs of drug use or abuse. It is known as the DRE protocol. Its accuracy is questionable as the process is a part of law enforcement and not a 100% scientific tool. Therefore, your defense attorney can expose issues dealing with the accuracy of the test.
Nowadays, video cameras are not only installed on police vehicles but are worn by officers themselves. Furthermore, CCTV footage from nearby businesses and video recordings from bystanders can also be used. Such footage may determine proof of traffic violation or act as a testament to the defendant’s sobriety.
Beating the Case
The whole process is stressful, but it doesn’t mean winning the case is impossible. A review by your defense attorney might bring to light a valid defense combating the state’s charges against you. This is mostly done by getting the evidence thrown out of court for a number of reasons that aren’t limited to having an unlicensed lab tech handling the chemical evidence or because of an illegal traffic stop.
Your case can be resolved in these three ways:
This is the best-case scenario. It is not solely down to your attorney’s ability; there need to be redeeming factors that render the prosecution’s claims futile.
In these scenarios, the prosecutor and the defense come to terms on the conviction or sentence. This is mostly done by lawyers who are out to make a fast dollar. Like Stephen Bowling DWI & Criminal Defense Attorneys, an attorney that’s firmly on your side won’t cave like this unless it’s the only option.
If a dismissal or plea bargain isn’t arranged, then the case goes to trial. A proper defense attorney will advise you to take this option over a plea bargain as anything short of rock-solid proof of guilt is a win.
Contact a proven attorney who understands how to get the best outcome for your situation. Our team of Austin DWI Defense Attorneys is dedicated to fighting for you and all our other clients. Given Stephen’s terrible experience in his case and the communication barriers he faced with his attorney, he established a firm built on the values of openness and client loyalty. With Stephen Bowling Attorneys, you know someone’s got your back.