Every year thousands of Texans are arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Some of these arrests are from extremely inebriated people. However, some people are arrested for drunk driving after minimal or zero alcohol consumption. A DWI conviction can lead to serious statutory penalties. Even a first-time offender could face serious penalties including steep fines and jail time.
While you may have been charged with DWI, it doesn’t mean you’ve been convicted. There is still a chance that you can reduce or dismiss your charges. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is your first step to fighting your allegations. If you or someone you know has been charged with driving while intoxicated, it’s important you seek legal representation.
Attorney for First DWI Offense in Houston, Texas
In 2017, the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDOT) reported that 89,539 were charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). If you or someone you know has been charged with DWI, it’s imperative that you contact a skilled criminal defense attorney.
Contact the attorneys at Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc. for quality legal representation. Our attorneys are familiar with all types of DWI charges including the special procedures for first-time offenders. Call us now at (713) 224-5529 to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys accept clients throughout the greater Harris County area including West University Place, Tomball, Houston and Bellaire.
Overview of First DWI in Texas
- First DWI Charges in Harris County, Texas
- Penalties for a First DWI in Texas
- License Suspension After a DWI
- Additional Resources
First DWI Charges in Harris County, Texas
Driving impaired on drugs or alcohol can lead to serious consequences. Texas Penal Code § 49.04 states you’re driving while intoxicated if:
- You were operating a motor vehicle in a public place; and
- Your blood-alcohol concentration was measured at .08 or higher or your physical and mental faculties were impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Law enforcement measures impairment levels by blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). Police officers use chemical testing to measure how much alcohol content you consumed. These chemical tests include blood analysis, breath analysis and urinalysis.
Texas Penal Code § 49.01 measures alcohol concentration by number of grams of alcohol per:
- 100 milliliters of blood;
- 210 liters of breath; or
- 67 milliliters of urine
It’s important to understand this can be a low limit for some. Blood-alcohol concentration can accurately determine how much grams of alcohol are in your body, but not how impaired you are. Some people can function perfectly at .08 BAC while others are extremely inebriated. However, if your chemical tests show a BAC of .08 or more, then you’ll automatically face DWI charges.
Another way for law enforcement to measure your impairment level is through field sobriety testing. Police officers may ask you to undergo physical exercises to determine if you’re impaired or not. The only field sobriety tests that are admissible in court are standardized by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests include the walk-and-turn, the one-leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus.
Field sobriety testing is not a flawless process. Many people fail field sobriety tests without touching a single drink. Certain external factors such as age, physical ability, weather or even shoes can skew your results. There is also no standard for field sobriety testing. The results are all from the police report by the officer who pulled you over.
Penalties for First DWI in Houston, Texas
First-time DWI offenders should expect to face a class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. A DWI conviction may also come with additional punishments that are decided by a judge. These penalties include any of the following:
- Community supervision;
- Required monthly reports to a probation officer;
- Up to 100 hours of community service;
- Participation in DWI school;
- Installation of an ignition interlock device;
- Possible substance and alcohol abuse evaluation; and
- Required attendance at an alcohol and drug education program.
Your penalties may be enhanced if certain aggravating factors are present. If you had an open container in your car, then you’ll have a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six days.
If you had a BAC at or above .15, then your crime is a class A misdemeanor. The penalties for a class A misdemeanor include up to 12 months in jail, and a fine of up to $4,000.
If you had a child passenger in the car during the offense, then your crime will be reclassified as a state jail felony. The legal consequences for a state jail felony are up to 24 months in state jail, and a $10,000 fine. Texas law defines child passenger as any person under the age of 15.
License Suspension After a DWI Stop
You won’t only face criminal penalties for DWI, but you’ll also face administrative penalties. If you have a BAC over .0 or refuse to blow, your license could be suspended for a period of time. You’ll be prohibited from driving until you finish your suspension term. A refusal has a much longer suspension term because of implied consent laws.
Texas has a statute that address chemical testing called implied consent laws. Implied consent laws state you’re implicitly agreeing to chemical testing by using public roads in Texas. These laws ensure an administrative penalty if you refuse chemical testing by an officer. It’s important to note that implied consent laws don’t incorporate field sobriety testing.
Understand you won’t face any criminal penalties for refusing chemical testing. Instead you’ll face an administrative license suspension by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The suspension term depends on if you refused chemical testing or not.
- If you have a BAC of .08 or higher your license will be suspended for no less than 90 days, but no longer than one year.
- If you refuse to submit to chemical testing your license will be suspended for no less than 180 days, but no longer than two years.
Texas DWI Laws – Visit the official website for Texas Legislature to learn more about driving under the influence. Access the statutes to find more information about statutory penalties, intoxication assault, intoxication manslaughter and other relevant offenses.
Driving While Intoxicated – Visit the official website of Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to learn more about second DWI penalties, third DWI penalties and tips on how to prevent a DWI conviction.
Lawyer for First-Time DWI Charges in Houston, Texas
If you or someone you know has been charged with driving while intoxicated, it’s vital that you seek a skilled attorney. You could face time in jail and steep fines. Don’t go through this legal process without an efficient defense plan. To make the first step, call Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc..
Our attorneys at Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc. understand how stressful it is to handle criminal charges. We want to ease this process in any way we can through quality legal service. Contact us now at (713) 224-5529 to schedule a free consultation. We accept clients throughout the greater Houston area including Bellaire, West University Place and Pasadena.
This article was last updated on March 7th, 2019.