New Amendment to DWI Law Encourages Refusal to Submit to Tests

By Allen, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Kyle T. Therrian
Office Number: (972) 562-7549
24 Hr Jail Release: (214) 403-6522

If you ask almost any criminal attorney whether you should consent to a DWI breath or blood test, the answer is a resounding “no!” But now, the Texas Legislature has given yet another reason to refuse to submit to any sort of test. With the Amendments that took effect on September 1, 2011, a first offense DWI can now be enhanced from a Class B Misdemeanor to a Class A Misdemeanor if it is shown that the suspect’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15 or higher. Now even first-time DWI offenders can find themselves charged with an offense falling one degree short of a felony.

Why does this matter? Not all DWI misdemeanors are created equal. A Class A Misdemeanor carries a more serious range of punishment than a Class B Misdemeanor. A person charged with a DWI Class B Misdemeanor faces 3 days to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Offenses enhanced to a Class A subjects the same individual to up to 1 year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.

Fortunately, people convicted of DWI rarely end up serving actual jail time. Still, even a probated DWI conviction can have serious financial and time consuming consequences. The fact that the Legislature has decided to enhance 0.15 BAC DWI cases to Class A Misdemeanors sends a message to prosecutors and judges to make those consequences more severe (increased fines, increased probation periods, increased community service hours, etc.). What’s more, if the case results in a conviction, a Class A Misdemeanor will always look worse on paper than a Class B.

So why submit to a breath or blood test? Despite what an officer says, an individual who provides a sample that registers under the legal limit will rarely be set free. Frankly, the legislature has given us very little to be gained, and now, even more to be lost.

*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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