February 19, 2023
DWIs are a serious crime in Texas, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe.
However, not all DWI charges are based on a proper judgment. In that case, you can challenge the evidence against you. If you have a suppressed license from a DWI arrest, a motion to suppress could help with your case. Continue reading this article to learn more about this legal tool.
Generally, a motion to suppress is a legal tool filed by a defense attorney requesting the court to exclude certain evidence in a criminal case.
Of course, that exclusionary rule is applied under particular circumstances, such as an illegal arrest.
The goal of the motion is to have the judge declare the proof inadmissible, potentially weakening the prosecution’s case. Consequently, it increases the chances of a favorable outcome for the defendant.
If the motion to suppress is granted, it can lead to a reduced sentence. Better yet, it can even cause a dismissal of the charges.
However, getting a motion to suppress incriminating evidence is no easy feat. It requires an experienced defense team to force the state prosecutors to dismiss the charges.
DWI can be a major felony in Texas. Generally, first-time DWI charges are considered a class B misdemeanor in Texas. Penalties include a $2000 fine and a license suspension that ranges from 90 to 365 days.
Serving a three-day jail term once convicted is also mandatory, but the period can extend to 180 days.
Second-time DWI charges fall under class A misdemeanors, with even more steep consequences. The fine reaches $4000, while the license suspension extends between 180 days and two years. Mandatory jail time increases to one month and up to a year.
After two DWI convictions, the state categorizes subsequent DWI charges as felonies. The penalty includes a license suspension for up to two years and serving jail time that can reach ten years.
The felon also pays a $10,000 fine. Aside from the legal penalties, the convict will install an interlock device and take DWI classes.
Not to mention, DWI charges, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, appear on background checks. With a criminal conviction, you’re likely to face many difficulties, like not landing a particular job or obtaining professional licenses in the medical and legal fields.
Challenging the evidence is probably the most effective way to dismiss DWI charges in Texas, regardless of how many times the person has been convicted. That can include unlawful arrest as well as illegal search and seizure, as they violate the Fourth Amendment.
Incorrect administration of field sobriety tests or inaccurate results helps obtain a motion to suppress DWI evidence.
Here are a few examples of how an attorney can incorporate a motion to suppress into a Texas DWI criminal case:
For an arrest to be legal, the officer needs to have probable cause to detain the driver. Without a reasonable basis, the arrest is considered illegal, and any proof obtained during the arrest is inadmissible.
For instance, if the police pulled you over without committing a traffic violation, that can call for unreasonable suspicion. Likewise, the arrest is illegal if the officer violates your human rights or fails to read the suspect’s Miranda rights.
Search and seizure refer to examining a person’s property to confiscate evidence. In the case of DWI, the officer searches the vehicle for drugs or liquor. Similar to a false arrest, an officer can’t search the suspect’s car without a reasonable basis, warrant, or consent.
Even with the presence of contraband items, the police can’t seize and use the illegal substance against the driver without justification.
An example of the latter includes pulling someone over for running a stop sign. If that’s the only thing the officer finds wrong, searching the car is considered unlawful because there isn’t probable cause.
As the name implies, law enforcement uses field sobriety tests to determine if a driver is impaired due to intoxication. However, any evidence obtained from the tests may be excluded if the officer fails to administer the tests properly.
Some of the problems with field sobriety test administration include:
- The tests were not carried out per the standardized procedures established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- The arresting officer did not give clear instructions or conduct the tests in a safe environment.
- The officer did not observe the defendant during the tests.
Breathalyzers are one of the most common tests to measure a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The problem with this test is that it’s not always accurate, and an expert witness can challenge the reliability of the test results.
Some factors that influence the results include:
- The breathalyzer was not properly calibrated.
- The defendant has a medical condition that affects the results, such as acid reflux or diabetes.
- The defendant consumed substances such as mouthwash and alcohol-containing foods.
Your attorney can file for the motion before the trial. However, the defense team can object to the evidence as late as the day of the court case, before the jury selection. Both timings have their pros and cons.
The court will schedule a hearing if your lawyer files for the motion pretrial. During that time, both sides can present arguments to support their positions.
Then, the judge will make a ruling on the motion. In some cases, however, the judge may delay the decision for a few days or weeks.
A pretrial filing allows the attorney to cross-examine the police’s arguments and other disadvantageous evidence, like witnesses’ testimonies. That provides an opportunity to prepare and limit what the witnesses can say in court.
However, the pretrial filing also gives prosecutors a chance to appeal the judge’s decision.
For that reason, sometimes it’s best to carry the motion along with the trial. That’s especially true if the attorney obtained decisive evidence, like camera footage of an illegal arrest.
As you can see, a motion to suppress DWI, can significantly shape the outcome of your trial.
To win a motion to suppress, your attorney can challenge evidence obtained in an unlawful arrest or illegal search and seizure. Failing to administer field sobriety tests properly or having inaccurate test results can also render the acquired evidence inadmissible.
An experienced DWI attorney can help determine the best grounds for suppression and build a convincing argument for evidence exclusion so that you potentially win your case! Call The Napier Law Firm at 713-470-4097 for a free consultation.