DWI FAQ

Drunk driving cases are not as simple as prosecutors would have you believe. From the traffic stop to determining whether forensic evidence should be allowed in court, there are specific procedures that police and prosecutors must follow to secure a conviction.

At Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, we know how to investigate DWI cases, and our San Antonio law firm has earned a reputation for holding police officers and district attorneys accountable.

To arrange a confidential consultation regarding your case, contact us today. We develop aggressive DWI/DUI defense strategies for clients throughout Bexar County.

Am I required to submit to a chemical test?

Texas has an implied consent statute. That means, in the eyes of the law, you have consented to a chemical test — either a breath test or a blood test — if you are arrested on suspicion of DWI.

However, you still have a statutory option to refuse alcohol testing. If you refuse, though, you face the possibility of having your driver's license suspended. Additionally, law enforcement officers in Bexar County have a "no refusal" policy for DWI arrests. If you refuse a breath test in Bexar County, the arresting officer will try to get a search warrant to obtain a blood sample for forensic testing. You are fully within your rights to insist on a warrant before allowing your blood to be taken from you.

Our overview of ALR hearings has more on how to protect your license after refusing a breath or blood test.

Is forensic alcohol testing always reliable?

No. As our firm has shown repeatedly in DWI cases, the results of breath tests and blood draws can be compromised in a variety of ways, including:

  • Defective Breathalyzers or Intoxilyzers
  • Poorly calibrated breath test machines
  • Contaminated blood or breath samples
  • Poor blood draw procedures
  • Unsanitary blood draw environment
  • Lab errors in DWI blood testing

Uncovering these errors can be difficult if you don't know where to look, and it is crucial to put an experienced DWI defense attorney on your side to determine if errors in forensic alcohol testing should result in the reduction or dismissal of charges.

What are my options if I'm a first-time offender?

Aside from an investigation into whether police violated your rights in any way, your options may include a "Taking Responsibility" plea, which is available to qualifying individuals in Bexar County, Atascosa County and Kendall County, as well as some others.

This kind of plea bargain may be an option if you meet the following criteria:

  • This is your first DWI arrest.
  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was shown to be less than 0.15.
  • You did not cause an accident or injuries.
  • You behaved politely toward police.
  • You agree to the "Taking Responsibility" plea within 90 days.

People who take this plea can receive a pretrial diversion or deferred adjudication — a type of probation — and have their DWI dismissed. Our overview of the Bexar County program provides more information.

Alternatively, you have the option of taking your case to trial, regardless of whether this is your first DWI arrest or your second or third. In any case, contact our law office to explore your full range of options.

Should I refuse SFSTs or other DWI tests?

Generally, yes, you should refuse to take any tests an officer may offer you once they have stopped you for DWI. These tests, including the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs), will serve primarily to allow the officer to obtain or create evidence against you. We routinely see arrests that result in passengers driving the car home, despite the fact that the passenger drank more than the driver because the driver "failed" the SFSTs but the passenger "passed." What does this mean? It means the cop will see you as drunk when he wants and sober when he wants, regardless of the field sobriety tests. So, there is no point in giving the cop more ammunition against you.

How much can I drink before I'm DWI?

The amount a person can consume before becoming impaired or exceeding the 0.08 BAC standard varies by person. The general rule is one regular drink per hour, spaced out, should keep you near 0.00 BAC. Two or more drinks in an hour will tend to cause your BAC to rise. However, any alcohol in your system may be used as proof you were drinking and any alcohol scent on your breath or clothes might turn a traffic stop into a DWI investigation. Your best bet is to avoid drinking and driving.

I was drinking and driving and got into an accident. What do I tell my insurance company? What if my insurance company asks if I was drinking?

You should not lie to your insurance company, BUT you should refuse to make a statement until you have consulted a good DWI lawyer. In fact, you should avoid talking to your insurance company if you were in an alcohol-related accident until you have a chance to consult a top DWI attorney.

You do NOT need to hide the fact that you want to consult legal counsel, but you do not need to tell them why. If you say, "Hey, I'll call you back after I consult the best DWI lawyer in Bexar County," then your insurer might be concerned. Just tell them you have an appointment with a lawyer and will talk to the insurance company later. A top DWI lawyer will work with insurance companies and take some of that stress off of you.

How can a DWI lawyer help me with my insurance company?

The best DWI lawyers know how to help you avoid trouble with your insurance. From obtaining new coverage to avoiding rate increases, experienced DWI lawyers have resources for referral. However, the most important thing the best DWI lawyers in Texas can do is help remind your insurance company that it has an obligation to defend you, legally. Prosecutors often seek insurance records in DWI cases involving accidents, especially intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter cases. Your statement about what happened could be used by the State to convict you of an intoxication offense. However, top DWI attorneys will quickly contact your insurer and demand its legal assistance by putting the insurance company on notice that any claims against you for drunk driving are likely to be litigated.

How will a DWI affect my insurance rates? Will getting arrested for drunk driving affect my insurance? Will my DWI get me dropped by my insurance?

The answer depends on a variety of factors, including which insurance company you use, your driving history, your age, whether there was an accident, etc. Generally, a conviction will have the worst impact on auto insurance rates and make it more likely you will be dropped. An arrest may have some effect, but not as much. However, there are some things you can do to help. For example, an ignition interlock device (a machine that tests deep lung air to ensure a driver doesn't have alcohol in his system) may help lower your rates after a DWI.

Each case is unique. For example, in San Antonio, there are two insurance companies that respond very differently to a DWI arrest. One, which advertises heavily, has a reputation for denying coverage to suspected drunk drivers. Another, serving mostly military personnel, tends to stick by its members, especially if they've been customers a long time.

How can I avoid DWI and still have a social life when public transportation is so awful?

It is tough to go have a few with your friends in Texas without risking a DWI. There are some options, however. Look for local public transportation to expand their services during major events like concerts. For example, in San Antonio, VIA bus service will run later routes and special Park & Ride routes for events. Check www.viainfo.net for holiday and event schedules.

We are huge fans of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft. If you are a first time Uber or Lyft user, then use our codes for free ride credit (Uber = josephh1546ue, Lyft = JOSEPH16634). You'll need to download one of the apps and set them up, but it only takes a few minutes.

I have a drinking problem. I want help. Can you help me and will it help in court?

Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, can certainly help you get help to treat addiction and other problems. We have established relations with clinical experts in psychology, addiction, PTSD and other issues faced by our clients. We work regularly in specialty courts that are focused on treating and rehabilitating clients who are willing to try. Participation in these programs, such as DWI Court, Veterans Treatment Court, and Drug Court, can lower your sentence. So, we can help you change your life while fighting for a second chance to enjoy the new you.

Will I go to jail after being arrested for DWI?

Maybe, but generally not for a first or even second DWI or other intoxication offense. However, if someone, including yourself, was seriously injured, then prison is a real possibility in most Texas jurisdictions. Unless someone was seriously injured or killed, your biggest concern should be for your criminal history. A DWI conviction will affect your insurance, cost thousands of dollars in DPS surcharges, may result in a difficult period of probation, may cause you to lose to your driver's license, and can impact your credit. These things can be a bigger problem than the unpleasant food and surly staff in the county jail.

DPS says I have to pay thousands of dollars to get my license back. I can't afford these DPS surcharges. What do I do?

DPS surcharges are terrible. They keep good people from getting a license. Then, when those folks drive without a license, for work or school, then DPS adds more surcharges, making it even harder to pay off DPS and get a Texas Driver's License. Fortunately, DPS has programs to reduce or forgive surcharges. An experienced DWI lawyer can help you avoid imposition of surcharges in the first place by asking a judge to waive them or by avoiding a DWI conviction so you won't owe surcharges.

How can I get a DWI off my record?

The best way to keep a DWI off your record is to beat the case and then expunge the record. Expunctions destroy the records and allow you to deny having been arrested. A close second is a contract called a "pretrial diversion" or "PTD." Not all counties offer PTDs and the ones that do are strict about who is eligible. However, if you complete a PTD successfully, then the State should dismiss your case and allow you to expunge your criminal history for that offense.

In some Texas counties, the prosecutor may change the charge to from DWI to something else, usually Obstruction of a Highway or Reckless Driving, and allow you to do "deferred adjudication" probation, which can help you seal your record (the records exist but the public cannot see them). This option also avoids DPS surcharges for DWI.

After Sept. 1, 2017, you can seal your record, even if you have a DWI conviction and went to jail. Not everyone is eligible, but a good DWI lawyer can walk you through the provisions of H.B. 3016 and Texas Government Code Sec. 411.0731, which allow DWI convictions to be sealed.

Contact A Texas DWI Defense Lawyer

Schedule a confidential consultation today by calling 210-570-9902, or send us an email. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start protecting your rights.