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DWI and other Alcohol Offenses in McKinney, Texas

Drinking and driving is an extremely dangerous behavior for both the driver and other people out on Texas roads. However, the act of drinking and driving itself is only just the beginning. If you get caught by law enforcement, what comes next can be just as frightening. Texas authorities and the courts take drinking and driving cases seriously. A conviction could dramatically change your future, your financial standing, and even how you commute. With so much at stake, now is the time to seek out experienced and professional legal representation.

At Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian we have a team of experienced attorneys with the skills and know-how to fight drunk driving charges. Our team has handled hundreds of drunk driving cases and we understand what it takes to build a solid case with your best interests in mind. We are aggressive about protecting your rights and defending your freedoms. If you have been charged with an alcohol-related offense contact the law office of Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian for help. We will review the circumstances of your case and craft a defense strategy for your particular situation. Don’t wait, time is of the essence when it comes to alcohol-related offenses. Call our office at (972) 369-0577 to schedule a consultation today.

Differences Between DUI and DWI

In a number of different situations, people may use the terms DUI and DWI interchangeably. But in Texas, the terms have significantly different meanings, and it is important to understand the differences between the two. DUI stands for driving under the influence, while DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. Texas law dictates that a DUI offense can only be issued to minors under the age of 21 when they are found to have any amount of alcohol in their system while operating a motor vehicle. A minor does not even need to exhibit the class signs of symptoms of intoxication like mental or physical impairment because of Texas’s “zero-tolerance” law. If an officer stops a car for any reason and detects a trace of alcohol or drugs on the driver’s breath, that minor may be on the hook for a DUI.

DWI or driving while intoxicated is a much more serious offense and requires a driver to be operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, or the driver must be clearly driving impaired by alcohol or drugs. To be charged with a DWI in Texas, a driver must clearly exhibit a lack of normal mental or physical abilities. Texas also has what is known as an “implied consent” law. If a driver is lawfully arrested for driving while intoxicated, they must agree to take a blood or breath test. Drivers who refuse to voluntarily submit to either a breath or blood test can face the suspension of their driver’s license for 180 days up to two years depending on their driving record.

DWI and Criminal Charges in Texas

What is unique about the legal system and DWI cases in Texas is that typically in a criminal case, you are innocent and free from penalties until you are convicted in a court of law. That isn’t the case with DWI charges. If you are lawfully arrested for DWI you may face immediate consequences for your actions because DWI cases are essentially two cases in one. What does this mean? First, you will have to face civil action for a DWI. This is brought by the Department of Public Safety and may result in a suspension of your driver’s license. Even if you are not ultimately convicted, you may still be on the hook for paying fees. The second case is a criminal action that is brought by the State of Texas. This case may result in fines and jail time if convicted.

Penalties for DWI

The penalties for a DWI offense vary due to the fact that in Texas a judge can consider how many prior convictions you have on your record. While the circumstances of all DWI cases may vary, these are the typical penalties you may face if convicted of a DWI:

  • DWI 1st Offense
    • Jail time of 3 days up to 6 months; 1-year maximum sentence if BAC is 0.15 or higher
    • Fines up to $2,000; $4,000 maximum if BAC is 0.15 or higher
    • Suspension of driver’s license 90 days to 1 year
  • DWI 2nd Offense
    • Jail time of 30 days up to 1 year
    • Fines up to $4,000
    • Suspension of driver’s license 180 days to 2 years
  • DWI 3rd Offense
    • Jail time of 2 to 10 years
    • Fines up to $10,000
    • Suspension of driver’s license 180 days to 2 years
  • DWI crashes that result in bodily injury or death
    • Intoxication Assault- causing bodily harm
      • Third-degree felony
      • Prison time of 2 to 10 years
      • Fines up to $10,000
    • Intoxication Manslaughter- causing a death
      • Second-degree felony
      • Prison time of 2 to 10 years
      • Fines up to $10,000
  • DWI with child passenger under age 15
    • State felony
    • Jail time of 6 months to 2 years
    • Fines up to $10,000

All drivers convicted of DWI will face the prospect of having their driver’s license suspended. Some offenders are eligible for an occupational license which allows them to only driver a motor vehicle to work and or school for the period of their suspension. In some cases, especially with repeat offenders, a judge may also require them to install an interlock device in their vehicle. This device can detect the presence of alcohol. If alcohol is detected, the car becomes temporarily disabled.

Drivers who have more than three DWI offenses on their record may face even more severe felony penalties. In some situations, punishment can be enhanced to 25 years to life in prison. Punishments for DWI may vary depending on the circumstances of the case and a judge’s discretion. Penalties can also be especially severe in cases where an intoxicated driver causes serious injuries or death.

An experienced DWI defense attorney can examine the circumstances of your particular case and layout which legal options are right for you. This is one situation where you don’t want to go into the legal system without strong legal representation. DWI cases are taken very seriously by Texas authorities and the courts. It is extremely important to make sure that you have legal representation that has the knowledge and experience to craft a solid defense strategy with your best interest at heart.

Other Alcohol-Related Offenses

DUI and DWI are typically the most common offenses that come to mind when talking about alcohol-related crimes, but they are the only alcohol-related violations that can get you in trouble. Most of these offenses relate to minors and the distribution and consumption of alcohol. While these may seem like a minor infraction, again, law enforcement takes alcohol-related crimes very seriously. At Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian our seasoned attorneys have the experience it takes to defend a wide range of alcohol-related offenses. Some of those offenses include:

  • Minor in Possession of alcohol
    • Minor in possession is also known as MIP and is considered a Class C misdemeanor crime punishable by up to a $500 fine. The law states that it is illegal for any minor under the age of 21 to possess alcohol. There are some exceptions to the law depending on the circumstances.
  • Sale of alcohol in minors
    • Local sting operations often make the news the next day and can get businesses and their employees in serious trouble with the law. It is illegal to sell alcohol to minors, and the offense is considered a Class A misdemeanor crime. There are strong defense tactics that can be used in these cases, especially if a minor was in possession of a convincing-looking fake identification.
  • Boating while intoxicated
    • Boating while intoxicated, or BWI, is extremely similar to DWI. One of the only differences between the two is the fact that law enforcement officers do not need probable cause to stop a boat for safety inspections. Another distinction is that while it is unlawful to have an open container in a motor vehicle, it is legal to have an open container in a boat. The penalties for BWI are the same as for a DWI. It is important to note that if you are found intoxicated while operating a vessel that has an engine over 50 horsepower, your license will be automatically suspended.

Contact an Experienced McKinney DWI Attorney Today

If you or a loved one are facing charges of DWI or any alcohol-related offense, it is important to get the legal representation of an experienced McKinney defense attorney on your side immediately. We understand what an emotional and frightening time this is for you and your family, which is why we want to help you build a solid case right from the get-go. Prosecutors will aggressively pursue DWI cases, you need someone equally aggressive to defend your rights.

Contact the seasoned legal team at Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian for the representation you need to protect your future. Contact our office today at (972) 369-0577 for a consultation. Let an experienced team review your case and explain all your legal options.