Slide background

DWI Lawyer in Austin County

Grant M. Scheiner - Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

DWI Lawyer in Austin County

DWI Lawyer in Austin County

About Austin County

Austin County is part of the Metropolitan Statistical Area of Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland in southeastern Texas. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 28,417 and a total area of 656 square miles for a population density of 43.5 per square mile. Although the county seat is Bellville, the largest city in the county is Sealy.

Does Austin County Have a Drunk Driving Problem?

Southeastern Texas has earned a reputation for being the drunk driving capital of the United States, with neighboring Harris County singled out as having the highest rate of alcohol-related car accidents. Drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 form the highest percentage for drunk drivers in fatal car accidents, followed by those in the 25 to 34 age group (32 percent and 30 percent, respectively).

Underage drinking in Austin County

The statistics for underage drinking make frightening reading, both for parents and for DWI lawyers in Austin County. According to the organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving:

  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers. One in four of these crashes involve a drinking underage driver.
  • Almost 50 percent of all high school sophomores drink alcohol.
  • Kids who start drinking young are almost seven times more likely to become involved in a car accident that involves alcohol.
  • While one in six teenagers admit to binge drinking, only one parent in 100 is aware that their teen is a binge drinker.

For these and other reasons, Texas has a special category of drinking and driving offense especially for underage drivers who drink, called driving under the influence.

DWI versus DUI

DWI lawyers frequently use the terms “driving while intoxicated” and “driving under the influence” interchangeably. DWI lawyers in certain other states use the terms “operating while intoxicated” or “operating under the influence.” Generally, all of these terms are synonymous with each other. In Texas, however, there actually is a difference between DWI and DUI. A DWI lawyer in Austin County will reserve the term, DUI, for minors who are caught driving a car after having any amount of alcohol, regardless of whether or not they are impaired.

If you are under 21 and you get pulled over for drinking and driving, you will most likely be charged with DUI if you have a detectable amount of alcohol in your system. However, if you have a BAC over the legal limit of .80 percent, you can still be charged with DWI, which has higher penalties than DUI. The choice is up to the discretion of the officer who pulls you over. For this reason, a DWI attorney in Austin County would be likely to advise you to be courteous to the officer and appear contrite, rather than try and argue or boast about how well you “know your rights.”

Penalties for DUI versus DWI

While both offenses will result in you having your license suspended, the length of time for the suspension is lower for DUI than it is for DWI, i.e., 60 days for a first offense, 90 days for a second and 180 days for a third. You may also be saddled with a $500 fine. An Austin County TX DWI attorney may tell you that the suspension periods for DWI are up to two years for first, second and third offenses.

Defense strategies for DUI/DWI

There are a number of defense strategies available to the Austin County TX DWI attorney. These may be factual, physiological or procedural. A factual defense usually involves casting doubt on whether the accused was operating a motor vehicle (for example, the police may arrest a person who was parked or was not found behind the wheel of his vehicle) or was intoxicated.

Physiological strategies available to the DWI lawyer in Austin County

  • Your Austin County TX DWI attorney may argue that certain medical conditions can cause a false high reading on a breath test. These include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn.
  • Breath testing machines may show patterns of error, which can sometimes be discovered by examining the breath test slips of other arrested people, in the days, weeks and months before and after your own breath test;
  • Breath testing machines can mistake other chemicals for alcohol;
  • Some breath testing machines are antiquated or poorly maintained;
  • Some breath testing machines are antiquated or poorly maintained;
  • Blood testing may be equally unreliable as breath testing. Blood test estimates may suffer from errors during the collection (blood draw) phase,, transportation (chain of custody) phase and laboratory (testing) phase. Blood estimates may vary dramatically, based on the type of testing, that is, whether it’s done in a hospital lab or a law enforcement lab.

Procedural defenses used by Austin County criminal defense lawyer

  • Failure to Mirandize. It is surprising how often arresting officers fail to advise people about their legal rights, when a person is in custody and under interrogation.
  • Lack of reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle. Weaving within your lane (or even out of your lane, if no danger is involved) may not be just cause for a police traffic stop.
  • In Texas, an officer is obliged to remain in a subject’s presence for 15 minutes prior to administering a breath test. When police fail to observe certain protocol – whether during standardized field sobriety tests, breath tests or blood tests – results may sometimes be inadmissible in court.