Texas DWI Laws: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Texas DWI Laws The Good the Bad and the Ugly
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Getting a DWI in Texas can be a difficult process. Hiring a lawyer to handle your DWI case should be your first priority.


A Break Down of Texas DWI Laws

A DWI in Texas can either be a class B misdemeanor, a class A misdemeanor, or a felony if it’s your third or more. The law reads: “A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.” Texas Penal Code § 49.04. The State has three ways of proving intoxication: the loss of your mental faculties, the loss of your physical faculties, or that your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or higher. If the police do not obtain a breath or blood specimen, they will try and prove intoxication by showing you were not acting “normal” mentally or physically. Officers have you go through field sobriety tests to see if you have lost the use of your mental and/or physical faculties.

Your first offense is a class B misdemeanor, which can be punished anywhere up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. If your blood alcohol level is above 0.15, the DWI becomes a class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor can be punished by jail time up to one year and up to a $4,000 fine. A DWI can be a third-degree felony if it is your third or more. The punishment range on a third-degree felony is a minimum of two years in prison and up to 10 years in prison.

Other penalties related to DWI include, but are not limited to, driver’s license suspension, having an ignition interlock on your vehicle, fines, and taking DWI education classes.

The Ugly… Getting a DWI without Driving!

As stated above, a person commits the offense of DWI when the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle. In Texas, “operating” may seem to mean driving. However, there are other ways to “operate” a motor vehicle. If you’re sitting in your car with the lights on and the car running, but not in drive, that is still considered operating.

The definition of operating can be pretty broad. According to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, juries are free to assign the term “operating” with any meaning that is acceptable in common parlance. This means the jury can interpret “operating” however they see fit. Moral of the story: be careful if you’re in your car AT ALL if you have been drinking. Almost anything can be taken as “operating.”

Common Defenses to Take to DWI Charges

There are quite a few ways we can tackle your Texas DWI charge. If there is a defense, we will use it. Involuntary intoxication and necessity are two defenses that are relatively difficult to prove but not impossible. Another defense tactic we may take is tackling the initial stop. If there are any problems with the validity of the traffic stop, we will find it. For example, if an officer pulls you over and no traffic violation was committed, we may be able to attack the stop.

Contact a DWI Attorney in Texas Immediately

Having an attorney on your side is imperative when you get charged with a DWI. From the beginning, your driver’s license might be suspended. Having an attorney from the start can pause the potential suspension and save your driver’s license. Further, the earlier we start our investigation the better. We conduct our own investigation into your case and we have a team working on your case. Having an attorney will allow you to make the decision if you want to take a plea deal or go to trial. We begin preparing for trial from day one so we can fight for you. Hamilton Grant is a trial firm and we are ready to protect your rights and fight your DWI charge.

Deandra Grant

Deandra M. Grant, JD, GC, MS is a 27-year criminal defense attorney and forensic consultant. She is the Managing Partner of Hamilton Grant PC’s five offices in DFW and Austin. A national speaker on DWI law, science and trial skills, as well as the co-author of the annually updated The Texas DWI Manual, Deandra is known as “The Lawyer Lawyers Call”. She’s also VP of Living the Doxie Dream Rescue and Sanctuary in Royse City. When not “lawyering”, Deandra is a wife, mom, painter, wine collector and dog rescuer.

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