People from all walks of life are arrested for DWI: pillars of the community, judges, cops, prosecutors, priests, your kids’ kindergarten teacher, politicians, entertainers, athletes, your next door neighbor, and your mechanic are as likely as anyone else to be arrested. Even the most ardent anti-drunk driving advocates, including people who have lost loves ones to drunk driving, have been arrested. Regrettably, arrest is pretty much always based solely on the opinion of one person, the officer who makes the arrest.
Word of mouth is usually a good indicator of who the best DWI lawyer in Corpus Christi is, although it’s not a perfect measure. A lawyer’s reputation within the legal community is usually not an accident. Choosing the best DWI lawyer in Corpus Christi begins by making sure that lawyer regularly defends people charged with DWI and stays on top of the latest in the field. Experience and successful outcomes in court over a long time is an invaluable indicator of who the best DWI lawyer in Corpus Christi is.
The best DWI lawyer in Corpus Christi should be able to readily discuss the details of things like the basics of breath/blood testing and field sobriety testing.
Namely, the standards in Texas for so-called “field sobriety” testing begin with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Standardized Field Sobriety Test Battery (SFSTs). SFSTs are perhaps the single most common evidence used against people in DWI cases, since they are used in almost every case. The best DWI lawyer in Corpus Christi simply must be able to effectively cross-examine the arresting officer about SFSTs because the tests otherwise appear to be valid and incriminating.
The Texas breath test for evidentiary purposes is the Intoxilyzer 9000. The best DWI lawyers in Corpus Christi must able to demonstrate the limits and fallacies of breath testing, including whether procedures were followed, assumptions made about human physiology by the designers of the machines, and the wide margins of error built into the procedures, among many other concepts.
The best DWI lawyers understand blood testing can be challenged from many angles, including how, when, where, and by whom the blood was drawn, how it was preserved, how it was stored, how and when it was tested, and what potential flaws and mistakes could affect the reliability of the result.
Good questions to ask would include whether the attorney owns various manuals used by police in their training to catch and prosecute DWI cases. Such manuals are important when it comes to cross-examining police officers in court. Other publications specific to DWI should be in the library of the best DWI lawyer in Corpus Christi, as it indicates the commitment and devotion to DWI defense.
You also may ask whether the attorney knows what the “ALR” (Administrative License Revocation) process is, how it works, and whether the attorney has experience with ALR. Incredibly, many attorneys tell clients not to bother with ALR because they can’t win. Such an attitude is indicative of someone who hasn’t been successful with ALR and should be avoided.
72 hours to 180 days in county jail, $0-$2,000 fine, or both such fine and incarceration.
30 days – 1 year in county jail, $0-$4,000 fine, or both such fine and incarceration.
2-10 years in prison, $0-$10,000 fine, or both such fine and imprisonment.
6 months-2 years in State Jail, $0-$10,000 fine, or both such fine and imprisonment.
2-10 years in prison, $0-$10,000 fine, or both such fine and imprisonment.
2-20 years in prison, $0-$10,000 fine, or both such fine and imprisonment.
Numerous enhancements are possible, as is stacking of sentences.
DWI is usually a misdemeanor charge, so bail is usually relatively low. A few hundred dollars typically springs someone from jail. However, DWI charges also bring special conditions of bail, including putting an interlock device on any car the person drives. Interlock devices prevent cars from starting, if the device detects alcohol on a driver’s breath.
Sometimes, bail can be extremely high, such as after an intoxication manslaughter or intoxication assault arrests. These felony charges involve death and serious bodily injury. DWI with a child in the car is also a felony and normally has higher bail amounts. Such charges can require thousands of dollars to be released.
A DWI conviction is a lifelong criminal record in Texas. Worse, there is an unlimited “lookback” provision in Texas, meaning subsequent DWI arrests will be enhanced, no matter how long ago previous convictions occurred.
Beating a DWI charge begins by having the courage to contest it. The best DWI defense attorneys in Corpus Christi begin with a confident attitude, even when a case seems bleak.
Successfully defending against a DWI charge requires specialized knowledge and multiple skills. Understanding how breath testing and blood testing works is imperative. Intimate familiarity with police training for DWI, such as standardized field sobriety tests, is critical in almost every case.
Successfully challenging breath tests in court requires substantial knowledge of breath testing theories and methods, familiarity with scientific principles involved in breath testing, familiarity with equipment being used, knowledge of administrative rules and training of people conducting the testing, and the ability to effectively communicate such knowledge to jurors.
Any criminal charge can be dismissed. Prosecutors have the powerful and critical role to decide what is dismissed and what goes to trial. How they decide which case is dismissed depends upon many factors. Such factors include the strength or weakness of the evidence, the availability of witnesses, the relative credibility of witnesses, the circumstances at the time of the arrest, the defendant’s criminal record or lack thereof, and the ability of the opposing attorney.
DWI arrests in Texas result in at least two cases: criminal and ALR (Administrative License Revocation). Criminal cases are what people watch on television and see on the news. Criminal defense lawyers are required to know about the criminal case, but few are familiar with administrative law.
ALR cases are held in administrative courts, namely the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Arrestees should receive two yellow sheets of paper incident to arrest. These are important. There is a 15-day deadline to request a hearing, or the driver license is automatically suspended.
Keep in mind, a conviction for DWI isn’t the same as arrest. Conviction requires the government to meet a much higher burden of proof than it takes to justify your arrest.
Phillip W. Goff can analyze exactly what the arresting officer did right and wrong, how an accident may have been caused by something other than impaired driving, and why the cop screwed up while putting you through the so-called “sobriety tests”. Even breath test results and blood test results can be challenged. You might be surprised to know how often rules are not followed by police. You probably haven’t even imagined some of the ways Phillip W. Goff has defended DWI cases.
Phillip Goff is a member of the most prestigious organization in the United States devoted to DWI defense: National College for DUI Defense, as well as Texas DWI Lawyers. He is also a certified practitioner of NHTSA Field Sobriety Testing, having been trained in the same curriculum as police officers.