Friday, July 27, 2007

College Station DWI

Robert Guest (I Was The State) recently posted about his DWI victory. His principle argument was that DWI was an opinion crime and innocent people are convicted of DWI simply because a police officer opined they were intoxicated. In a effort to educate local folks in the Bryan/College Station area about DWI, the following are my thoughts.

The best way to avoid a DWI arrest is to not drink and drive. Stay at home to drink - designate a driver - or surrender your keys to someone who can drive you home - these are the safest ways to avoid a DWI. If you must consume and alcohol and drive, know this.

In College Station, Texas, by the time an officer asks you to step from your car for sobriety testing, the officer may have already decided to take you to jail for DWI. The most common mistakes a person makes are submitting to a variety of coordination tests (field sobriety tests), answering a variety of incriminating questions, and submitting to a breath or blood test. The field sobriety tests are easily failed - even by a sober person. You have the right to refuse these tests, although that refusal may later be used as evidence of your guilt. The best thing to do is say as little as possible, do as little as possible, and be as polite as possible. Remember, these police encounters are likely video taped and audio recorded. The breath testing devices used by the College Station police in DWI investigations can be inherently inaccurate. They operate under the flawed assumption all people process alcohol in their system at the same rate. Few safeguards are taken to insure the breath sample is not contaminated by residual alcohol. A breath alcohol reading of .08, or above, in Texas is all that may be needed to convict a person of drunk driving. Anyone who has consumed more than a few drinks must seriously consider whether to submit to chemical testing. Know you have the right to refuse testing - but there are also consequences for refusing a chemical test.

ALR, or Administrative License Revocation, is an administrative process in Texas used to suspend the driver’s license of a person who is arrested for DWI. A person arrested for DWI who fails, or refuses, a chemical test after being properly requested to do so by the arresting officer is subject to an ALR suspension. Again, I Was the State has a good post regarding ALR here.

If you fail or refuse a chemical test, your license is not suspended immediately. Rather, the police will take your license and give you a temporary driving permit labeled “Notice of Suspension - Temporary Driving Permit.” If you do not request a hearing to fight the license suspension within 15 days of the arrest - your license will be suspended automatically on the 41st day following your arrest. If you request a hearing your license will not be suspended until after you have fought for it before an administrative judge.

Parents should also take a realistic approach when imposing rules on their teen drivers. First, remember it is a crime for a person under 21 to consume ANY amount of alcohol and then drive a motor vehicle. Most parents don’t want their children out drinking, but kids often make mistakes. Parents should maintain an open dialog with their children regarding drinking and driving. Parents should understand a late night call for a ride from their intoxicated teen is highly preferred over that same call from a jail cell.

Hopefully these thoughts will assist folks in Bryan/College Station to make good decisions about avoiding a DWI. Again, my best advise is just don't drink and drive. Don't hesitate to contact the College Station DWI Lawyer if you have any additional questions.

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