Dallas-Fort Worth Law Enforcement on High Alert for DWI on St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is March 17, 2016. St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday commemorating the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Originally, exclusively a religious holiday, St. Patrick’s Day has expanded to a celebration involving parades, parties, festivals, and an overall celebration of Irish culture.

St. Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Dallas St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival is celebrating its 39th anniversary.

For over 30 years, the North Texas Irish Festival has presented world renowned Celtic musicians. St. Patrick’s Day is an all-day/all-night celebration in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Part of the fun and festivities often includes beer and alcohol. Bars across the Tarrant County area will offer drink specials to commemorate the national holiday, like the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium on E. Third Street in Fort Worth, Quarter Bar on McKinney Avenue in Dallas, and the Idle Rich Pub on McKinney Avenue in Dallas.

With the increase in celebrations and drink specials, law enforcement will be on high alert for drunk and impaired drivers. The Dallas Police Department announced that “No Refusal Weekend” for St. Patrick’s Day begins on Thursday, March 17, 2016 and ends on Monday, March 21, 2016.

During this time, police will make roving patrols and establish DUI checkpoints throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The police will get a search warrant for a blood sample of anyone suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI).

What is Driving While Intoxicated?

In Texas DWI is determined by the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to determine whether you are too intoxicated to operate a vehicle. The states BAC limits are:

· 21 years old or older = 0.08%

· Commercial drivers = 0.04%

· Younger than 21 = any detectable amount.

Law enforcement can test a driver’s blood alcohol concentration through a blood or breath sample. Texas is an implied consent state.

This means by virtue of obtaining a driver’s license and driving on Texas roads, a driver must consent to blood, or breath testing if the officer suspects the driver is driving under the influence. Refusing to submit to chemical testing will result in an automatic 180-day license suspension.

During the “No Refusal Weekend” law enforcement officers are going the extra mile to obtain a warrant for the blood or breath sample. By obtaining a warrant, the driver may not refuse to submit to the breath or blood testing or face additional criminal consequences.

Understanding the Consequences of DWI in Tarrant County Texas

Penalties are based on factors like, age, license type and other circumstances (such as having other passengers in the vehicle or horrific events such as death). Typical DWI consequences you can expect are:

· Jail Time- Generally, a first-offense DWI is considered a Class B misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor carries a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours confinement. Also, a Class B misdemeanor is punishable up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

The classification of a DWI conviction and the criminal penalties vary depending on the facts of the case. For example, if an individual is convicted of a first-offense DWI with a BAC of 0.15 or higher, the conviction is a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.

· Conviction Remains on Record for 10 Years- For the purposes of establishing multiple criminal convictions, DWI conviction remains on the record for 10 years.

For example, if an individual is convicted of a first-offense DWI in 2010 and commits another DWI in 2019, then the subsequent DWI is considered a second or repeat DWI. Repeat DWIs have higher criminal penalties.

· License Suspension- Driver’s license suspension is part of a DWI conviction. For a first offense DWI, a license is generally suspended for at least 90 days. The facts of a case can result in an increase of time the driver’s license is suspended.

· DWI Education Program- As part of a DWI conviction, the judge will generally require an individual complete a DWI Education Program. The DWI Education Program is designed to provide an individual with the tools and resources to reduce the likelihood he or she will reoffend.

· Rehab- Depending on the circumstances of the DWI, drug or alcohol rehabilitation may be deemed necessary by the court. Rehab is one of the more extreme mechanisms imposed to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.

· Alcohol/Substance Abuse Screening- Generally not required for a first DWI conviction, however, the courts may impose this requirement depending on the facts of the case. The courts may require an offender undergo regular alcohol or controlled substance testing. Alcohol and substance abuse testing is a regular penalty of repeat DWI

· Ignition Interlock Device- Like the alcohol and substance abuse screening, installment of an ignition interlock device is not required for first-time offenders. However, this is a regular requirement for repeat DWI offenders.

Depending on the facts of the case, the courts may require installation of an ignition interlock device for first-time offenders. An ignition interlock device requires the driver to submit a breath sample before the vehicle will start.

· DUI/DWI Surcharge Fee- The State of Texas imposes a fee for committing DWI. Annually, an offender must pay the state $1,000 for three years. If the offender had a BAC of 0.16 or higher, the surcharge increases to $2,000 annually.

Conclusion

During the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, it is important to think of the consequences of driving under the influence. Law enforcement will be on high alert and prepared for impaired or drunk drivers.

A DWI conviction can be costly. An individual convicted can face jail time, steep fines, and other long-term consequences, including alcohol and substance screening, license suspension, and alcohol education courses.

If faced with DWI charges after the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, it is important to consult an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC have more than 30 years of combined experience in DWI law.

As former prosecutors, the attorneys at Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC are uniquely prepared to mount an aggressive and well-developed defense on your behalf. They diligently represent individuals facing all types of DWI charges, including First-DWI, Repeat DWI, and DWI and Controlled Substances.

Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC proudly serves clients throughout Texas, including Fort Worth, Weatherford, Arlington, Cleburne, and many other communities in North Central Texas. Contact Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC at (817) 502–3600 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.