Arrested for DWI in Fort Worth, TX? A skilled DWI attorney can make all the difference in your time of need. At Norris Legal Group, our experienced DWI attorneys in Fort Worth, TX can tailor a defense specific to your case, challenge evidence, and strive for the most favorable outcome. We will treat you and your family with dignity; we have experience you can trust; and we are committed to helping you fight your DWI charge.
Understanding DWI Charges in Fort Worth, TX
- In Fort Worth, TX, “DWI” or Driving While Intoxicated and “DUI” Driving Under the Influence are governed by the Texas Penal Code. These two charges are distinct: DWI refers to drivers of any age with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, and DUI targeting drivers under the age of 21 with any detectable alcohol in their system.
- At Norris Legal Group, we have found that experience, reputation, and legal savvy are all essential for navigating local laws, building defense strategies, challenging evidence, negotiating pleas, and protecting the accused’s rights during DWI/DUI legal proceedings. We get results because we are proactive about fighting for our clients.
- DWI defenses may include challenging the reliability of field sobriety and BAC tests, questioning the legality of the traffic stop, and disputing intoxication at the time of driving. All of these things help us get the best results for our clients, including potential reduced charges, or outright dismissals.
Understanding the Difference Between DWI and DUI Fort Worth
Both DWI and DUI are serious offenses in the eyes of the law, but they are quite different in their definitions, legal consequences, and penalties.
Definition of DWI
In Fort Worth, as in the rest of Texas, DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. If you drive or operate a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher or the state proves you have lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties, you could find yourself facing up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.00. To make matters worse, DWI can also lead to a driver’s license suspension. Drivers of any age can face a DWI charge in Texas.
Definition of DUI
On the other hand, DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and applies only to drivers under the age of 21. In other words, if you’re under 21 and have any detectable amount of alcohol in your system, you could be facing a Class C misdemeanor, a fine of up to $500, and potential loss of your driver’s license.
The Importance of Hiring a DWI Attorney in Fort Worth
Prompt legal representation is crucial when charged with a DWI or DUI. There are deadlines in the Texas Penal Code that must be met to preserve your driver’s license and potentially your freedom. Whether you or a loved one made a mistake, or were falsely accused, the clock has started. The state of Texas is already prosecuting your case, and your defense should start now.
A skilled DWI attorney, like the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Norris Legal Group, can play a vital role in understanding local laws and regulations, building a robust criminal defense strategy, and protecting your rights and interests. Your job, your driver’s license, and your freedom may depend on it. Principal Attorney Graham Norris is a former prosecutor and has handled hundreds of DWI cases in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and all over the State of Texas. In such cases, seeking the help of an experienced and trusted DWI attorney can make a all the difference in the outcome of your case.
Knowledge of Local Laws and Procedures
At Norris Legal Group our expertise and familiarity with Fort Worth’s local laws and court procedures are invaluable assets in your defense. Our Fort Worth DWI lawyers can:
- Skillfully navigate the legal system
- Address the nuances of the law
- Provide the strongest defense possible
- Ultimately influence the resolution of your case in your favor.
We are from here. The judges and court staff know us, and know we mean business. We will guide you through a difficult and frightening process…and we know how to get results.
Building a Strong Defense Strategy
Another key part of how we can help is by helping you build the strongest defense strategy possible. Our team will:
- Build a robust defense strategy
- Meticulously examine the evidence
- Identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case
- Present a formidable defense
- Negotiate favorable plea deals by knowing and humanizing our clients
- Safeguard your constitutional rights throughout the legal proceedings
Founding Attorney Graham Norris has been voted a Top Attorney by Fort Worth magazine for the past 6 years in a row because he cares deeply for his clients, and he gets results in the courtroom. He leads a team at Norris Legal Group who can help you.
Protecting Your Rights and Interests
Finally, a our DWI attorney’s primary responsibility is to protect your rights:
- Protect your rights and interests
- Ensure fair treatment
- Provide guidance and support throughout the legal process
- Be your guardian against potential legal pitfalls and the harsh consequences of a DWI charge.
You are facing the State of Texas, and you need a high powered attorney in your corner. We will always listen to you, and give you the respect you deserve. We are here to help you through this difficult time so you can move forward with your life.
Field Sobriety Tests in Fort Worth DWI Cases
Field sobriety tests are a standard tool used by law enforcement officers to determine driver intoxication. Although these tests are commonly used in DWI cases, their results can be challenged in court, adding another layer to a DWI defense strategy.
Types of Field Sobriety Tests
Three types of field sobriety tests are typically administered by law enforcement officers in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk and Turn test, and the One-Leg Stand Test. Each of these tests are designed to assess a suspect’s balance, attention, and involuntary muscle movements. While they are relied upon in most DWI investigations, they are sometimes administered incorrectly, which can lead to misleading results.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test is a critical component of field sobriety testing in DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) investigations. Nystagmus refers to an involuntary jerking of the eyes, which can be exacerbated by alcohol consumption or the use of certain drugs. The HGN test is one of the three standardized field sobriety tests endorsed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alongside the Walk-and-Turn and the One-Leg Stand tests.
In administering the HGN test, a law enforcement officer asks the suspect to follow a moving object, usually a pen or a small flashlight, with their eyes. The officer moves the object horizontally to observe the suspect’s eye movements. Three primary indicators are assessed in each eye: (1) the smoothness of the eye’s pursuit while following the object, (2) distinct nystagmus at maximum deviation when the eye is looking as far to the side as possible, and (3) the angle of onset of nystagmus, specifically if the jerking begins before the eye reaches a 45-degree angle.
The presence of four or more clues (out of the six possible, with three in each eye) suggests a high likelihood of impairment by alcohol. According to research endorsed by the NHTSA, the HGN test is one of the most reliable field sobriety tests, with accuracy rates for correctly identifying alcohol impairment often cited at around 77-88%.
However, the reliability of the HGN test can be influenced by several factors. Proper administration is crucial; officers must be adequately trained and follow standardized procedures. Environmental factors, such as lighting conditions can also affect the test’s accuracy. Additionally, certain medical conditions, medications, or injuries can cause nystagmus independently of alcohol consumption, potentially leading to false positives.
In the context of legal proceedings, the HGN test’s results can be contentious. Defense attorneys may challenge the administration of the test, the officer’s interpretation of the results, or the presence of alternative explanations for nystagmus.
Attorneys at Norris Legal Group know the HGN test backwards and forwards. Under cross examination, we are sometimes able to show that the investigating police officer did not administer the test correctly, and the results should be thrown out.
The Walk and Turn Test
The Walk and Turn (WAT) test is the second standardized field sobriety test used during DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) investigations. It is one of the three standardized tests developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alongside the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) and the One-Leg Stand tests. The WAT test is designed to assess a suspect’s divided attention skills, which are essential for driving, as they involve simultaneously managing multiple tasks.
During the WAT test, an individual is instructed to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line, turn on one foot, and return in the same manner. The test evaluates the suspect’s ability to follow directions and balance, as well as observe specific indicators of impairment. These indicators include an inability to maintain balance while listening to instructions, starting before the instructions are finished, stopping while walking to regain balance, not touching heel-to-toe, stepping off the line, using arms to balance, making an improper turn, or taking an incorrect number of steps.
Officers are trained to administer the test under standardized conditions to ensure accuracy. The suspect’s performance is evaluated based on the number of indicators present; typically, exhibiting two or more clues or indicators (out of the possible eight) is associated with impairment. According to NHTSA research, the WAT test has a 68% accuracy rate in determining if a suspect’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is at or above the legal limit.
However, the reliability of the WAT test can be influenced by various factors. The driver’s age, weight, footwear, physical condition, and nervousness can affect performance. Environmental factors, such as uneven ground or poor lighting, also play a role. In legal settings, the defense may challenge the test’s administration, environmental conditions, or argue that a driver’s medical issues or other non-alcohol-related factors influenced their performance.
Despite potential challenges, the WAT test remains a widely utilized tool in DWI investigations. Principal Attorney Graham Norris is a former prosecutor who has been trained extensively in the walk and turn test. He is able to evaluate the officer’s administration of the test, and can often spot errors leading to a false result.
The One-Leg Stand Test
The One-Leg Stand (OLS) test is the third standardized field sobriety test commonly used by law enforcement officers to assist in the detection of impairment due to alcohol or other substances during DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) investigations. This test, along with others like the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus and the Walk-and-Turn, forms a part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s (NHTSA) standardized field sobriety testing battery.
The OLS test is designed to assess an individual’s balance, attention, and physical control, which are faculties often impaired by alcohol or drug consumption. During the test, the driver is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands (One thousand-one, one thousand-two, etc.) until told to put their foot down. The officer observes the suspect for a period of 30 seconds. The test’s primary indicators of impairment include swaying while balancing, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance, and putting the foot down. If any of these clues are present, the officer marks them down as a sign of intoxication.
The NHTSA has established specific guidelines for administering the OLS test to ensure its reliability and validity. Officers are trained to provide clear instructions and demonstrations, conduct the test on a reasonably dry, hard, level, and non-slippery surface, and take note of any conditions that might interfere with a suspect’s performance, such as age, weight, footwear, or existing physical impairments.
The OLS test is considered a “divided attention” test, requiring the suspect to listen and follow instructions while performing physical movements. This mimics the skills required for driving. The test’s results are used in conjunction with other field sobriety tests and the officer’s observations to determine whether there is probable cause for a DWI arrest.
While the OLS test is a valuable tool in DWI investigations, it is not foolproof. Factors such as nervousness, fatigue, or medical conditions can affect performance. Furthermore, the test’s accuracy can be influenced by the officer’s subjective judgment. In legal settings, the results of the OLS test can be challenged, especially if the test was not administered and interpreted according to the standardized guidelines.
Norris Legal Group has studied the administration of NHTSA One Leg Stand OLS tests. We know what to look for, and can tell when an officer makes a mistake or misses something important. We use this knowledge and experience to help our clients defeat the OLS, or to get the best possible outcome in their cases.
Challenging Field Sobriety Test Results
Despite their widespread use, field sobriety test results are not beyond question. Our team of skilled DWI attorneys can challenge these results by questioning their accuracy and reliability, potentially weakening the prosecution’s case. Fort Worth Top Attorney Graham Norris has spent years honing his knowledge of field sobriety tests. He has challenged them in trial in county and district courts all over the state of Texas, and he can put his experience and knowledge to work for you.
Breathalyzer and Blood Tests in Fort Worth DWI Cases
Along with field sobriety tests, breathalyzer and blood tests are commonly used to obtain a breath or blood sample to determine a suspect’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in DWI cases. Like field sobriety tests, the results of breathalyzer and blood tests can also be contested in court.
Understanding BAC Testing Procedures
Anyone facing DWI charges needs to understand BAC testing procedures. Both breathalyzer and blood tests have their own set of procedures, and each comes with potential inaccuracies that can influence the test results.
Contesting BAC Test Results
Just as with field sobriety tests, the results of BAC tests can be challenged in court. A skilled DWI lawyer can highlight potential issues with the equipment and the testing procedures, questioning the validity of the results and potentially leading to a reduction or dismissal of charges.
Common Defense Arguments in Fort Worth DWI Cases
Lack of Reasonable Suspicion or Probable Cause
One of the most effective defense arguments in a DWI case is challenging the officer’s reasonable suspicion or probable cause for the traffic stop or arrest. If the officer lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause, then they did not have a legal right to stop your vehicle to begin with. If the stop wasn’t legal, the charges could potentially be dismissed, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Disputing Intoxication at the Time of Driving
The state of Texas must prove that the driver was actually intoxicated at the time of driving. Our attorneys can often question the timing of the BAC tests in relation to the driving incident, potentially leading to a reduction of charges or even a dismissal.
Questioning the Accuracy of BAC Testing
Another common defense in a DWI case is to show inaccuracy in the BAC testing. By challenging the reliability and validity of the testing methods, an experienced DWI attorney can raise doubts about the trustworthiness of the BAC test results, potentially leading to a reduction or dismissal of charges. Attorneys at Norris Legal Group understand how the breath and blood tests are supposed to be administered. We are adept at recognizing when and where mistakes have been made and helping leverage those inaccuracies to get our clients results.
The Legal Process Following a DWI Charge
If you have been charged with a DWI in Fort Worth, Texas, it is important to understand the legal process that follows. The legal process can be complex, and it is important to have a skilled DWI attorney on your side to help guide you through each step. At Norris Legal Group, we sit down with each and every one of our clients and explain the process in detail.
Arrest and Booking
If you are pulled over on suspicion of DWI, the officer will likely ask you to perform field sobriety tests. If the officer observes clues indicating you are intoxicated, you will be arrested and taken to the police station for booking. At the station, you will be read a statutory warning regarding your driver license rights (DIC-24 form) and then asked to provide either a breath or blood sample to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level.
You will then be held in jail until you can post bail or until your court date. Most first-time offenders can post bail and are booked out of jail within 24-48 hours. Our team at Norris Legal Group can help you or your family navigate the confusing bond process in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and other places in Texas.
After your arrest, the police department will conclude their investigation, gather any lab reports or forensic testing results, and send their case file to the local District Attorney’s office to be prosecuted. It will then be filed into a court, and a prosecutor will be assigned to prosecute your case. This is usually the stage of the case when you will have your first court date.
The police department and state attorneys begin work on prosecuting your case right away. That is why it is so important to have an experienced DWI criminal Defense attorney begin work on your defense as early as possible. Attorneys at Norris Legal Group will get to work right away in the earliest stages of the case. When court dates are finally set, we will walk into court knowing the facts and the law better than anyone else in the courtroom. Preparation from the outset helps us to get the best results possible.
It is not uncommon for a DWI case to be set for several pre-trial court hearings. These usually involve a lot of work behind the scenes, including plea negotiation, discovery review, and legal conferences between the opposing attorneys.
If a DWI charge cannot be resolved with a reduction, dismissal, or favorable plea agreement, the case is set for trial. A judge or a jury will then be tasked with determining whether the driver was operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. To prove the case, the prosecutor will call witnesses to testify, usually the arresting officer and any other police department officials who participated in the investigation. If there is a breath or lab test indicating a BAC score, the prosecution will call technicians and experts to testify about the process that was followed to obtain that BAC score.
The legal team at Norris Legal Group are experienced in trial law. Principal Attorney Graham Norris was a former prosecutor and has tried dozens of misdemeanor and felony DWIs to both judge and jury. If a trial is necessary, Norris Legal Group will be ready. And we have the skills to win.
Potential Penalties for DWI in Texas
If you are found guilty of a DWI in Texas, you can face severe penalties. The penalties for a first-time DWI offense include fines of up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, and a suspended driver’s license for up to one year.
However, if the prosecutor can show that your BAC was above .15 at the time you were driving, the state can enhance your class B DWI to a Class A misdemeanor. Meaning your range of punishment would go up: you’d face up to one year in jail, and up to a $4,000.00 fine.
Subsequent DWI offenses carry even harsher penalties, including longer jail sentences and larger fines. In addition to these penalties, you may also be required to attend alcohol education classes and perform community service.
If you have been charged with a DWI in Fort Worth, it is important to take the charges seriously and seek the help of a skilled DWI attorney. With the right legal representation, you can navigate the legal process and get your arrest behind you. At Norris Legal Group, we can help.
What to Do if Pulled Over for Suspected DWI
If you are pulled over for suspected DWI in Fort Worth, Texas, it is important to know your rights and take the appropriate actions. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
Cooperate with the Officer
It is important to remain calm and respectful when interacting with the officer. Provide your license, registration, and insurance information when asked. If the officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, do so without hesitation. Refusing to cooperate with the officer may result in additional charges.
Exercise Your Rights
You have the right to remain silent. This means you do not have to answer questions about where you are coming from or where you are going, and it means you do not have to tell an officer if you have consumed alcohol. You also have the right to refuse to perform any of the field sobriety tests. Keep in mind, however, that refusing to participate in field sobriety tests could result in an officer arresting you based on other observations alone, such as bloodshot eyes and an odor of alcohol coming from your breath. Refusing to perform the tests may not help you avoid an arrest.
Refusing to provide a breath or blood sample after you have been placed under arrest is your right under Texas Law. However, your refusal may result in a longer suspension of your driver’s license, if the state later proves you were intoxicated. It is also important to realize that if you refuse, an officer may seek a search warrant from a judge and take a blood sample anyway.
Contact a Lawyer
If you are charged with DWI, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A qualified DWI lawyer can advise you on your rights and help you navigate the legal process. They can also help you understand the potential penalties you may face and develop a defense strategy. At Norris Legal Group, we are open 24/7, so that day or night you can reach out to us for legal advice and support. We are your DWI legal resource in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and other places in Texas.
Remember, the best way to avoid a DWI charge is to not drink and drive. If you plan on drinking, make sure you have a designated driver or use a ride-sharing service. By taking these simple steps, you can help keep yourself and others safe on the road.
Preventing DWI Charges
Avoid Drinking and Driving
The most effective way to prevent a DWI charge is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. If you plan on consuming alcohol, make sure you have a plan in place for a safe ride home. This can include arranging for a designated driver, using a rideshare service, or taking public transportation.
Use a Designated Driver or Rideshare Service
If you plan on drinking, it’s important to have a designated driver or use a rideshare service to get home safely. Designated drivers should be chosen before the night begins and should be someone who is sober and responsible. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are also great options for getting home safely.
Understand Your Alcohol Tolerance
It’s important to understand your alcohol tolerance and know your limits. Different factors can affect your tolerance, including your weight, gender, and how much food you’ve eaten. It’s important to pace yourself and avoid drinking too much alcohol too quickly. By following these tips, Fort Worth drivers can help prevent DWI charges and keep themselves and others safe on the road. Remember, even one drink can impair your ability to drive, so always err on the side of caution and plan ahead for a safe ride home.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a DWI attorney cost in Texas?
Every case is different, and legal representation always depends on the specific facts of each case. Norris Legal Group offers free case evaluations and consultations, both in person and virtually. If you think you may need to hire a DWI attorney, give us a call.
How do I win a DWI case in Texas?
Defending a DWI case starts right away. The police and state begin working on your prosecution immediately, and your defense needs to start right away. Great results come from having the right DWI attorney who proactively gets to work on your case as soon as possible.
What does “NO REFUSAL WEEKEND” mean?
You’ve probably heard your local law enforcement agencies advertise that certain holidays or weekends are “No Refusal weekends” for Driving While Intoxicated. What is that all about?
The law does not change just because it is a holiday weekend! If you are stopped and suspected of Driving While Intoxicated, the officer can request a specimen of your breath or blood to test if you have alcohol in your system. You have a right to refuse to submit to these tests.
Just because it is a “no refusal” weekend doesn’t mean the officer can arrest you without probable cause. If, on the other hand, an officer is able to articulate enough evidence to show that there is probable cause that you were driving while intoxicated, he can apply for a warrant from a judge allowing them to draw blood over your objections.
So if that is always the law, why no Refusal weekends?
As you might imagine, a lot of DWI stops happen in the middle of the night, and there is not always a judge available to sign a warrant to allow the officer to draw someone’s blood.
So what does No Refusal Weekend mean?
It means that the police agency or city has devoted funding to a particular weekend to make sure that a judge IS on call all night long. This ensures that if someone does decline to provide a breath or blood sample, the officer can then immediately petition the judge for a warrant.
What does all of this mean for you?
Your rights don’t change based on whether a city has grant funding for a judge to sit up all night on a particular Saturday night. You will always have the right to decline to provide a specimen sample. However, the law does allow the police officer to obtain a search warrant if he has sufficient evidence. The important thing for you to remember is that the government does not get to take a shortcut on your constitutional rights just because it is a holiday weekend. The same laws are in place to protect your rights 365 days a year.
We are here to make sure your rights are upheld. If you or a loved one has been accused of driving while intoxicated, or has been subjected to a “No Refusal Weekend,” call us today. We can help.
Do I need a DWI Defense Attorney in Tarrant County?
DWIs in Tarrant County place your job, your driver’s license, and your very freedom at stake. You need an experienced and trusted attorney to stand beside you and defend you.
What to do after getting a DWI in Texas?
After getting a DWI in Texas, it’s crucial to contact a DWI lawyer immediately, challenge an Administrative License Revocation (ALR), avoid self-incrimination, and post bail or bond. Our team at Norris Legal Group is available 24/7 to guide you through this difficult process.
Former Prosecutor turned award winning defense attorney Graham Norris has handled hundreds of DWI charges in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and all over Texas. The experienced legal team at Norris Legal Group have earned a reputation for tough advocacy and amazing results. DWI charges are our bread and butter, and we are ready to put our skills to work for you.
We believe that every person has dignity and deserves respect. Just because you have been accused of a crime does not make you any less worthy of respect. Our team listens. We care about you and your family. We will always value you and give you the respect you deserve.
We believe that trust is earned. Our families live and work in this community. When we represent you, we place our reputation and the reputation of our families on the line. That is why we will never lie to you. We will always be available when you need us. And it is why honesty and integrity are at the core of everything we do.
As a former prosecutor, Graham Norris knows what’s at stake when someone is accused of a crime. He is a battle-tested trial lawyer and has the experience and tenacity to fight for you. Graham Norris will not shrink from that fight…and he has the skills to win.
Your defense starts now. You matter.