About every 20 minutes someone in Texas is hurt or killed in an auto accident involving drugs or alcohol.
Because of that, Texas has enacted laws to tackle the issue of driving while intoxicated. Have you been arrested and/or charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas? You are not alone – in the Houston area, a DWI is one of the most common crimes people are arrested for. Under Texas Penal Code §49.04, a person commits a DWI offense if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. The Penal Code goes on to define intoxicated as:
- Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or
- Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more (which is a per se legal violation)
Our criminal defense attorneys understand the situation you are in and that the penalties can be life-changing and severe. When you are arrested for a DWI in Texas, two cases may be filed against you – a civil case to suspend your driver’s license and a criminal case to try and convict you for the crime of driving while intoxicated.
Will a DWI Arrest Get My Texas Driver’s License Suspended?
A driver arrested for a DWI in Texas does not automatically have their driver’s license suspended. Even if local law enforcement issues a DIC-25 or “Notice of Suspension,” that does not mean your license has actually been suspended – it means you are entitled to a hearing regarding the state’s attempt to suspend your license. The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) program in Texas gives you only 15 days following a DWI arrest to request a hearing. This hearing is your chance to fight law enforcement to prevent DPS from suspending your license. If you don’t request a hearing within 15 days, you waive the hearing and your Texas driver’s license is automatically suspended.
Types of DWI Charges
The penalties levied by the court for a DWI conviction can vary based on the facts of each individual’s case. For example, the number of prior offenses can affect the severity of the punishment.
First DWI: Even if your DWI is your first, you can still face serious penalties; however, in most cases, a first-time DWI is a Class B Misdemeanor. This can become a Class A Misdemeanor if your BAC is 0.15 or higher. A Class B Misdemeanor can result in up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. A Class A Misdemeanor can result in up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. Many people arrested for their first DWI have never been arrested before – that’s why it’s important to remember an arrest is not the same thing as a conviction. You can work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to push back against a prosecutor seeking to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Second DWI: Once you have been convicted of a DWI if a second charge comes your way you will be treated as a repeat offender and your offense will be classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. This means your driver’s license can be suspended for six months to two years, you will likely spend a year in jail, and you will have to install an Ignition Interlock Device on your car. Texas courts can also impose other punishments including but not limited to at least 80 hours of community service, up to two years’ probation or community supervision, completing an approved DWI education class, and obtaining an evaluation to see if alcohol or substance abuse treatment is needed.
Third DWI (or more): If you are found guilty of a third or more DWI in Texas, this becomes a felony offense. A third DWI is usually classified as a Third-Degree Felony. The penalties increase significantly, including you can lose your driver’s license for up to two years, pay up to a $10,000 fine, be incarcerated for up to 10 years, lose the ability to possess a firearm, not be able to vote, and more. Past your third offense, if charged again it will likely be a Second-Degree Felony which can send you to prison for 20 years. The charged offense of DWI 3rd or more is governed by CCP Art. 12.01(7), which sets the limitation period of three years for felonies not specifically listed in subsections one through six of Article 12.01. Article 12.03(d) does not apply.
There are a variety of additional factors that can increase the severity of your potential punishment for a DWI, including but not limited to:
- Being drunk while driving with a child passenger
- Driving with a BAC of 0.15% or more
- Being under age 21
- Having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle
Houston DWI Defense Lawyers
Were you arrested for drunk driving in Houston, Texas? The criminal defense attorneys of J.D. Silva & Associates represent alleged offenders throughout Harris County, Brazoria County, Friendswood, Pearland, Seabrook, League City, Deer Park, Pasadena, La Porte, Fort Bend, and many other locations. Call (281) 944-4354 or fill out an online contact form to have our lawyers review your case and explain your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.