One of the most common criminal charges issued here in the state of Texas is DWI. When someone is arrested for driving while intoxicated, they’ll face a host of penalties that can drastically impact their lives for months and even years down the road. If you’re someone who has been convicted of a DWI, you have a lot to consider. This article deals with some of the many penalties a person can face for a DWI conviction here in Texas and how a competent group of Houston criminal defense attorneys can help fight them.
What Constitutes a DWI Charge in Houston, Texas?
When someone is arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, law enforcement will likely ask them to submit to chemical testing (typically in the form of a breathalyzer test). If the individual is found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, they’ll be charged with driving while intoxicated.
Will I Go to Jail for a First-Offense DWI in Houston?
If you’re convicted of driving while intoxicated, you’ll most likely spend anywhere between three and 180 days in jail. Additionally, you can expect to face a potential $2,000 fine, a one-year driver’s license suspension, community service, and mandatory completion of DWI education and treatment programs. You may also have to pay $2,000 every year for three years to keep your driver’s license.
What Happens if I Get a Second DWI?
When someone gets a second DWI in Houston, Texas, they’ll likely face even harsher penalties, including anywhere between one month and one year of incarceration. Fines will also go up to $4,000 and face a longer driver’s license suspension (anywhere between one and two years). They’ll also have to pay yearly surcharges ($2,000 every year for three years), have to participate in community service and DWI education/treatment programs, and may have to install the ignition interlock device in their vehicle.
How Long Will I Lose My License for a Third DWI in Texas?
If this is your third DWI in Texas, you’ll most likely lose your driver’s license for up to two years, but you’ll also face a longer term of incarceration (anywhere between two and ten years). In addition, you’ll face other penalties, such as yearly surcharges (see above) and the potential installation and use of the ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Will I Lose My Commercial Driver’s License if I Get a DWI?
Yes, you will. If you are convicted of driving while intoxicated in Houston, Texas, you will lose your commercial driver’s license, which not only comes with its own set of criminal penalties but will also prevent you from continuing your livelihood. It’s also worth noting that commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers, in that you only need a blood alcohol content of 0.04% to be charged with a DWI, as opposed to the 0.08% standard that other motorists are held to.
Can I Get a DWI if I’m under The Age of 21 in Texas?
Yes, you can. In fact, Texas has a “zero-tolerance law” in place, which essentially means that if you’re under the age of 21 and are caught with any amount of alcohol in your system while you’re behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, you’ll receive a DWI.
Can I Get a DWI while Driving a Boat in Texas?
Absolutely. Texas holds all motorized vehicles operators to the same standard. If you’re operating a motor boat, approached by law enforcement, and are found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, you will be charged with driving while intoxicated.
What Happens if I Get a DWI with a Child in the Car?
Courts in Texas crack down harshly on all DWI cases, but this is especially the case when a minor child is in the vehicle. If you are accused of driving while intoxicated with a minor under the age of 15 in your vehicle (a felony offense), you’ll likely face anywhere between 180 days and two years in state jail, as well as a potential $10,000 fine. Additionally, if you’re a divorced parent, have a custody agreement in place, and your child was in the vehicle at the time of your arrest, you may be at risk of losing custody of your child.
Should I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test?
When people drive after having a few drinks and know they’ll likely fail the breathalyzer test, they’ll often wonder whether it’s best to refuse to take the test. Unfortunately, even if you don’t consent to a breathalyzer test, you can still face a wide range of penalties for refusing the test itself. For example, for a first offense refusal, you’ll likely lose your driver’s license for up to 180 days. If you refuse a second time, you’ll typically lose your driver’s license for up to two years.
Should I Ever Represent Myself in Court?
No, you should never represent yourself in court. Though you are technically allowed to represent yourself in any criminal legal matter, it’s always a bad idea. Hiring competent legal representation with an in-depth knowledge of the law can make the difference between you moving on with your life and spending time in jail. An attorney who has handled DWI charges in the past understands the intricacies of these cases and the various potential defenses available, such as improperly conducted field sobriety tests, improperly calibrated breathalyzers, lack of probable cause, and unlawful arrests). Ultimately, an attorney knows how to properly assess their client’s situation and best fight for their future.
The bottom line is that DWI charges here in Texas can permanently impact a person’s life, so anyone facing such charges should make it a point to retain aggressive legal representation at once. If you need a legal team to defend you against your DWI charges, please don’t hesitate to contact The Gonzalez Law Group today.