CRIMINAL DEFENSE

DWI/DUI

 HOUSTON | SUGAR LAND 

Texas Law on DWI

Under Texas Penal Code § 49.04, a non-commercial driver is considered legally intoxicated and may be arrested and charged with a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) when they are operating a motor vehicle in a public place with a .08 BAC (blood or breath alcohol concentration) or higher. Commercial drivers operating a motor vehicle in a public place with a .04 BAC or higher are considered legally intoxicated and may be arrested and charged with a DWI. 

Under Texas law, "intoxicated" means not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of those substances, or having a .08 BAC or higher. Texas law permits the arrest and charge of a person with a DWI if they appear intoxicated or impaired due to alcohol or other drugs regardless of whether the BAC is a .08 or above. 

The Range of Penalties for a DWI

An offense under Texas Penal Code § 49.04 is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours. If it is shown on the trial of an offense under § 49.04 that at the time of the offense the person operating the motor vehicle had an open container of alcohol in the person's immediate possession, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of six days. If it is shown on the trial of an offense under § 49.04 that an analysis of a specimen of the person's blood, breath, or urine showed an alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more at the time the analysis was performed, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

The range of penalties for a DWI varies due to several factors, including prior offenses.  

DWI FIRST OFFENSE: If it is a first offense, you may be fined up to $2,000.00 and serve 6 to 180 days in jail. Your license may also be suspended for 90 days to 1 year, and you may have to pay an annual fee of up to $2,000.00 for 3 years to retain your driver's license.

DWI SECOND OFFENSE: If it is a second offense, you may be fined up to $4,000.00 and serve 1 month to 1 year in jail. Your license may also be suspended for at least 1 year, and you may have to pay an annual fee of up to $2,000.00 for 3 years to retain your driver's license.

DWI THIRD OFFENSE: If it is a third offense, you may be fined up to $10,000.00 and serve 2 to 10 years in prison. Your license will also be suspended for 1 to 2 years, and you will be charged an annual fee of up to $2,000.00 for 3 years to retain your driver's license.

DWI WITH CHILD PASSEGER UNDER 15: In the event you are charge with a DWI when you have a child passenger under the age of 15, you may be charged with a state jail felony and serve 180 days to 2 years in state jail as well as pay a fine of up to $10,000.00.

DWI WITH .015 BAC: If your BAC is 0.15 or higher, you charge may increase to a Class A misdemeanor, and you may have to serve up to 1 year in jail with a fine of up to $4,000.00. 

COMMERCIAL DRIVERS DWI: If you are a commercial driver, your first DWI offense while driving any vehicle will disqualify you from driving a commercial vehicle for a 1-year period. If you were operating a commercial vehicle at the time of your offense, and transporting hazardous materials at the time, your disqualification period will be for a 3-year period. A commercial driver who is convicted of their 2nd DWI offense while driving any vehicle, whether commercial or personal, will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life.

In addition to these penalties, you may also be required to do community service hours, enroll in a DWI education and treatment program, and use an ignition interlock device anytime you drive. You will be required to pay the costs of the interlock device. The ignition interlock device will prevent you from driving if you have been drinking, and you may be in violation of your probation if the interlock device detects the presence of alcohol in your system. Your auto insurance premiums will undoubtedly rise for any DWI offense and your insurance coverage may be cancelled altogether.  

Other Offenses         

 

In addition to the other offenses under Texas law,  if you refuse to submit to a sobriety test, your license will automatically be suspended for 180 days if it is your first offense, and 2 years if it is your second offense.

As the driver or the passenger of a vehicle in Texas, you can also be fined up to $500.00 for having any open container of alcohol in a vehicle.

Administrative License Revocation

If you are arrested and charged with a DWI or a BWI (Boating While Intoxicated), or refuse to consent to a police officer’s request for sobriety testing or a breathe or blood test, irrespective of whether you are convicted of a DWI, you will also have to attend to an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) case with the Texas Department of Public Safety for the suspension of your driver’s license. The ALR matter is a civil case; it is not part of the criminal matter. 

 

It is imperative you hire a Houston or Sugar Land attorney immediately to assist you in your DWI case as you have 15 days to act after notification of your suspension or you make risk the loss of your driver’s license. 

Texas Law on DUI

Texas prohibits a person under the age of 21 from operating a motor vehicle in any public place with any amount of alcohol in their system. Your BAC may only be .01, and you will still be in violation of Texas law. This includes to operation of boats and ATVs. 

The Range of Penalties for a DUI

The range of penalties for a DUI varies based upon various factors, including prior offenses.  

DUI FIRST OFFENSE: If it is the first offense of a minor, you may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, fined up to $500.00, required to attend an alcohol awareness class, serve 20 to 40 hours of mandatory community service, face a driver’s license suspension of 60 days, and be ineligible for an occupation license for the first 30 days of the suspension of your driver’s license. 

DUI SECOND OFFENSE: If it is the second offense of a minor, you may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, fined up to $500.00, required to attend an alcohol awareness class, serve 20 to 40 hours of mandatory community service, face a driver’s license suspension of 120 days, and be ineligible for an occupation license for the first 90 days of the suspension of your driver’s license. 

DUI THIRD OFFENSE: If it is the third offense of a minor, you are ineligible for deferred adjudication. For the third offense of a minor, your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days, and you will be ineligible for an occupation license during the suspension of your driver’s license. If you are above the age of 17, your fine will be increased to $2,000.00, and you may also be confined to jail for up to 180 days. 

Contact a Houston or Sugar Land Criminal Law Attorney

If you were arrested for a DWI/DUI in the Houston Metro area, you need an experienced Houston or Sugar Land attorney on your side to zealously advocate and fight the pending DWI/DUI charges. Depending on the facts of you case, there may be several defenses available to fight the DWI/DUI charges and facts that can be raised to the court to help in lessening the sentence you are facing, such as the specific events surrounding your arrest as well as your criminal history. It is vital you hire an experienced and aggressive DWI/DUI in Houston or Sugar Land to assist you in raising the available defenses and mitigating factors to your DWI/DUI charge. As a Katy, Texas native, daughter of life long public servants, and practicing criminal law attorney in Houston and Sugar Land, having served on both the legislative and criminal defense side, Rebecca Grothaus’s experience is invaluable in defending clients. 

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©2019 | ML|MW  | Modern Law for Modern Women by The Moster Law Firm, P.C. | Attorney's in Georgetown, Houston, Lubbock, & Sugar Land Texas

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