Dallas DWIs Set to Spike As Coronavirus Restrictions Are Relaxed
Bars in Texas have been closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic since June 26, but restrictions are starting to relax in Dallas County. While this is welcome news for many Dallas bar owners and residents, the opportunity to drink away from home brings with it the potential for DWI arrests. If you need representation, you can count on Dallas criminal defense attorney Andrew Peveto to uphold your legal rights and explore your options for defense.
What’s the Status of Bar Re-openings in Texas?
As of October 14, Tarrant, Denton, and Collin counties have announced reopening plans under Governor Abbott’s orders, which allow bars across the state to reopen as long as the county hospitalization rate remains below 15% and the county judge consents.
There are no limits on outdoor seating capacity under the new guidelines, but indoor capacity must remain at 50%. Customers are advised to wear a face covering when they cannot maintain six-feet of social distancing and to remain seated while eating or drinking. Employees must also wear face coverings.
Hundreds of bars have reopened after an interim ruling by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that allowed pubs to reclassify as “restaurants” even if their total revenue from alcoholic beverages exceeded 51%. Bars without onsite kitchens selling prepackaged food like chips and salsa were able to reopen as restaurants.
Texas restrictions on picking up alcohol-to-go from bars are still eased, but patrons must be sure the alcohol they receive is completely sealed. Some drivers have received open container tickets and warrants for blood alcohol tests when the beverages were offered in conventional to-go cups.
Dallas Police Departments Increase DWI Enforcement Efforts
The number of DWI-related fatalities declined at the height of the pandemic due to lockdown measures and stay-at-home orders, but the numbers did not go down as much as one would expect. Texas continues to lead the nation in alcohol-related road fatalities.
Before Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall resigned in November, she affirmed that patrols would increase in areas with a high density of bars and nightclubs “known to have problems.” The Dallas police force expects an increase in DWI arrests in these and other areas.
Typically, over holiday weekends, area officers utilize the judicial system for what they call No-Refusal periods, where they can seek warrants that compel drivers to undergo blood alcohol tests even when they refuse to cooperate. In neighboring Tarrant County, this system is in place for the return to business-as-usual. “We have judges ready to sign search warrants,” Arlington Police Officer David Hinson said.
DWI? Call Dallas DWI Lawyer Andrew Peveto
If you’ve been charged with a DWI, you can’t afford sub-par representation. The punishments for DWI are severe in Texas – even if it’s your first offense. If you are convicted of a Class B misdemeanor (with a BAC under .15), you could face a fine of $2,000 and 180 days in jail. If your BAC is elevated higher and you receive a Class A misdemeanor, you could be forced to pay up to $4,000 and spend up to a year in jail – the same sentence as if you were a second offender.
A third DWI offense is considered a third-degree felony with a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to 10 years in the state penitentiary. Why risk it? An experienced DWI attorney can help get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Contact a winning Dallas DWI lawyer for expert advice. Discover what is possible with a FREE consultation.