I am Chris M. “Matt” Dillon, a Bastrop-based attorney who has handled numerous DWI defense cases in more than 15 years of legal practice. The following are some of the frequently asked questions I receive from clients. However, it is important to remember that everyone’s situation is unique and nothing can replace the advice that you receive from meeting personally with a lawyer. To schedule a consultation, call me at 512-764-3837.
Do I have to perform roadside sobriety tests?
No. However, most police officers will not tell you that you have a choice. They will simply order you to follow their instructions. You have the right to refuse.
Should I refuse to take a breath test?
You have the right to refuse any test requested by law enforcement, and if you do not submit to a breath test that is less evidence for the prosecution to use against you. Even if you take the breath test and pass, you are still under arrest and will not be released immediately.
That said, there are serious potential consequences for refusing a breath test. Refusal may result in a driver’s license suspension if you do not request a hearing within 15 days of receiving a notice of suspension. In addition, the government is always looking for ways to increase the penalties for people who refuse a breath test. Whether you choose to submit to a breath test or not, it is always important to seek help from a qualified attorney to determine your next steps.
Is the breath test machine accurate?
The Breathalyzer, or Intoxilyzer 5000, works by reading the amount of light that passes through a sample chamber. The amount of light passing through the chamber is affected by the amount of alcohol in the sample chamber. The machine itself will accurately read the amount of alcohol in the sample chamber. What it cannot accurately read is the amount of alcohol in a person’s body. Improper machine calibration or operation by a person who is not properly trained can also skew the results. I understand how to challenge Breathalyzer readings.
What happens if the police did not read me my rights when they arrested me?
The police are not required to read you your rights unless they want to talk to you once you are in custody. Anyone who has ever watched a movie or a television show is familiar with these “Miranda rights.” However, the Supreme Court case that established Miranda rights dealt with confessions obtained after an arrest. While police often read suspects their rights when placing them under arrest, doing so is not required in order to make a lawful arrest.
Will I be able to get my case dismissed because I was not read my rights?
Most likely, no. As discussed above, reading your rights is not necessary for a lawful arrest. However, if you were interrogated by legal definition after being placed in custody by legal definition, your statements may not be admissible at your trial, which may lead to a dismissal of your case.
Will I go to jail?
There are no guarantees. However, you have the best chance of avoiding jail time by working with an experienced defense attorney.
How long will a DWI be on my record?
For the rest of your life, unless you receive a pardon from the governor or the legislature changes the laws regarding the expunction of records.
I have prior DWIs. What will happen?
A third DWI is a felony, which carries a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A second DWI is classified as a class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in a county jail and a $4,000 fine. A typical condition of any bond granted on either of these types of offenses includes the installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle you may drive.
I lost my Texas driver’s license due to a DWI. May I obtain a license in another state?
In most cases no. Most states follow an interstate compact or agreement among states to honor the license suspensions of other states.