If you are of driving age, you know that in Texas you can be charged and convicted of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) if you’re tested and found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater. There are, however, two additional ways that you can be convicted of DWI in Texas that are less well known: not having the normal use of either your mental or physical faculties by reason of consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two.
Blood Alcohol Content
As in every jurisdiction in the U.S., Texas law holds that if you are found to have a BAC of .08% you’re lawfully intoxicated. This can be determined by breath, blood or urine testing. It is the most prevalent and familiar form of establishing a person’s intoxication level in order to justify arrest. These methods of testing are fraught with faults that have been discussed here previously.
Normal Use of Mental Faculties
The definition of the normal use of mental faculties does not exist within the Texas statute that criminalizes Drunk Driving. Obviously, driving a car requires you to be in command of your ability to think and make decisions. When driving sober, a typical driver is expected to, among other things:
- Be cognizant of other drivers on the road;
- Recognize and obey traffic signals and signs;
- Show awareness for their surroundings;
- Maintain safe speed and following distances; and
- Periodically observe the rearview and sideview mirrors.
If a driver fails to do these things because of alcohol and/or drug ingestion, the police can infer that they are intoxicated and potentially prove DWI based on these observed behaviors.
Normal Use of Physical Faculties
The normal use of physical faculties also is not defined under Texas law. As with mental faculties, though, there are certain expectations for sober drivers when it comes to the actual physical activities necessary to drive a car. Among others, these include the ability to:
- Maintain lanes and otherwise command simple control of the vehicle;
- Utilize the turn signals of the vehicle;
- Smoothly accelerate and decelerate the vehicle; and
- Control the environment inside the vehicle, including the temperature, radio volume and interior lighting.
All of these things are clearly within the assumed abilities of a licensed and sober driver but may not be within an intoxicated driver’s range of physical control.
When observing behaviors like these, typically one or two outliers in behavior are not necessarily enough to prove DWI in Brazoria County. However, if the police in Brazoria County observe the windows down on the vehicle while it is raining, the radio blasting and the car being driven in a jerky manner with very uneven acceleration and deceleration, it is very possible that a DWI could be charged.
Clearly, if you find yourself in this position, you need the best defense you can possibly obtain.
Consider contacting The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates.
Tad Nelson has over 25 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney. He knows how to properly attack those subjective observations that threaten to open the door to a conviction. If you live or work in Brazoria County and are facing DWI charges, give Tad a call at 979-267-6069 to schedule your free consultation today. A DWI conviction can life changing. You’ll need the skill and experience that Tad brings to the table for his clients.