On what grounds can I be charged with DWI in Texas?
For prosecutors in any criminal case, proving criminal charges is not always a given. For one thing, the evidence presented in support of charges must be relevant, reliable and sufficient, and this can be more or less a challenge. In DWI cases, proving charges can be a problem when prosecutors decide to bring a case where the evidence is simply weak, as well as when prosecutors rely on evidence gathered in a questionable manner.
No matter what a criminal case may be about, prosecutors must be able to prove that each and every element of each criminal charge is supported by the evidence. Most states recognize more than one ground on which a DWI conviction can be reached, and the same is true in Texas.
The primary ground upon which a defendant can be convicted of DWI in Texas is that the defendant was intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. The term intoxicated specifically means that the individual did not have “normal use of mental or physical faculties” due to the uses of alcohol or drugs. Proving intoxication under this definition is not always straightforward, since police may misinterpret abnormal behavior as a sign of intoxication when there may be another valid explanation.
Prosecutors have an easier time proving intoxication if they can present reliable evidence that the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration was at or above 0.08 percent at the time of arrest. For a variety of reasons, though, the reliability of blood alcohol concentration testing is not always beyond question.
One of the important issues a criminal defense attorney will screen a DWI case for is whether there are any constitutional violations underlying the charges. When there are constitutional issues present, this can also impact prosecutors’ ability to prove DWI charges. We’ll take a further look at this issue in our next post in relation to a relatively recent Supreme Court case.
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