Texas is known for its punitive stance on DWI convictions. Most Texans faced with DWI understand that dismissal is ideal, but not always possible.
An alternative to going to trial or otherwise working towards a DWI case dismissal is working directly with the prosecution to negotiate a plea bargain. Using the services of a qualified Dallas County DWI attorney may increase your chances of pleading your case down from a DWI to a lesser offense like reckless driving.
DWI Reduction Defense Lawyer in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, TX
Whether or not the prosecution on a DWI case will consider plea bargaining depends on a number of factors, including the stance of the D.A. on such practices, the strength of the state’s case against you, and your prior criminal history. If you have been arrested and charged with DWI in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Garland, Irving, Decatur, Terrell, Weatherford, Sherman, Rockwall, Burleson, Waxahachie, Addison, Richardson, Mesquite, Denton, and Arlington, contact the experienced DWI lawyers of Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
The attorneys of the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy work directly with you to build a customized defense aimed at getting your case reduced or dismissed, and will go all the way to trial if necessary. Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas.
Texas DWI Definition
Driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is the proper legal name for driving under the influence (DUI) in Texas. Texas Penal Code Section § 49.04 is the statute that makes it illegal for any person to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. According to Section § 49.01, intoxicated can have one of the following definitions:
- Person does not have the normal use of physical and/or mental faculties due to the presence of alcohol, drugs, dangerous drugs, controlled substances, or any other substance that may cause impairment
- Person has blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) at or over the legal limit of .08, which is known as “per se” intoxication
Texas has a more stringent per se definition of intoxication for commercial drivers with a legal limit of just .04, and a no-tolerance policy for underage DWI with a legal limit of .02. Even harsher penalties are applied to the DWI conviction if it can be proven that the driver’s BAC was at .15 or higher.
Additionally, it is important to note that the right to consume the substance, such as legally prescribed drugs, is not considered a valid defense against a Texas DWI charge. Working with an experienced and knowledgeable DFW DWI defense lawyer could increase your chances of getting your DWI charge reduced to a lesser offense.
Reckless Driving as an Alternative DWI Charge
In some states, reckless driving is included in the DUI law as a lesser offense given certain circumstances and is thus colloquially referred to as a “wet reckless.” In most cases, as in Florida, a wet reckless is only considered a DWI when determining prior offenses. Additionally, other states flat out bar this practice of amending this charge from occurring within the DUI statutes. Texas, however, has neither a lesser included charge for DWI nor a specific statute barring a plea bargain to another charge.
Depending on the case and the prosecution involved, sometimes this means plea bargaining down to a lesser charge is not an option. However, for many DWI cases in Dallas County or the surrounding areas, getting a DWI reduced is a legitimate option—especially if the prosecution has a weak case, the court docket is flooded, or you are a first-time offender.
Since the DWI charge can’t technically be amended, if you accept the plea bargain the prosecution will usually withdraw the DWI charge and enter a charge of reckless driving instead. Since this process is not guided by statute, the prosecution could technically still pursue the DWI charge after you plead guilty to reckless driving, so the services of an experienced DWI defense lawyer for DFW are highly recommended.
DWI Penalties in Texas vs. Penalties for a Charge Reduction
A first DWI in Texas with no accentuating circumstances like the bodily injury is generally a Class B misdemeanor unless your BAC was at .15 or more which would make it a Class A misdemeanor. In addition to facing up to $2,000 in fines and up to 180 days normally allocated for a Class B misdemeanor by Tex. Penal Code § 12.22, a first DWI conviction also comes with a mandatory minimum of 72 hours in prison, 24 to 100 hours of community service, a driver’s license suspension of up to one year (in addition to any administrative license suspension imposed), and a surcharge of $1,500-$2,000 a year for three years.
By contrast, a conviction for reckless driving is punishable as an unclassified misdemeanor, with up to 30 days in jail—which can be negotiated to probation or house arrest—and/or a fine of up to $200. Additionally, sanctions like community service and a DWI awareness course may also be imposed. As you can see, this is much less punitive. Some prosecutors even frown on accepting a reckless driving plea in lieu of a DWI conviction for this reason. In that case, your Dallas DWI defense lawyer may be able to plea bargain for obstructing a highway offense.
Obstructing a highway (OAH) is defined by Texas Penal Code § 42.03, and basically means what it sounds like. You can be charged with a criminal offense by partially or fully obstructing a highway by any means, including reckless actions while driving.
An OAH conviction is a Class B misdemeanor just like DWI but lacks the DWI-specific sanctions like a license suspension or mandatory minimums. Sanctions like a DWI awareness course may still be imposed as a part of the bargain.
Consult an experienced DWI offense attorney if you are concerned about taking your Dallas County DWI charge to trial and/or are considering pursuing a plea bargain agreement involving a DWI reduction to reckless driving to OAH.
Find A Dallas County Defense Attorney for a DWI Reduction | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you are facing DWI charges, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas.
They will help you decide what the best defense strategy is for your case to achieve a favorable outcome, including plea bargaining with the prosecution.