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Houston Driving While Intoxicated Attorney
Driving While Intoxicated
If you receive a DWI, you will need immediate legal representation. Driving while intoxicated is a serious crime. In Texas there is a crash-related injury every 20 minutes. Penalties for defendants convicted of a DWI can be severe depending on a number of factors.
First-time offenders found guilty are usually to experience jail time for a minimum of three days and maximum of 180. A DWI conviction also results in license suspension. Fines scale to $2,000, but defendants can be charged up to $10,000 if a minor is riding in the car.
Additional surcharge fines can be added every year for three years depending on the defendant’s blood alcohol level (BAC). Fines are $1,000 per year, and if the defendant’s BAC is above 0.16, then the surcharge is $2,000.
Every consecutive DWI charge becomes increasingly harsh. To be found guilty of a DWI, the defendant’s BAC must be 0.08 or higher. If the driver is under 21, the limit is dropped to 0.02. Truck and CDL drivers, taxi drivers, or any other commercial operator receives a DWI for 0.04.
First time offenses are most frequently punished with probation instead of jail time. Probation periods usually last one to two years.
If two or more DWI convictions occur in a period of ten years, the penalties are increased and jail time becomes increasingly unavoidable. A second offense carries fines of up to $4,000 and 30 days to one year in jail. A third offense is punishable by fines up to $10,000 and 2 to 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections. The defendant is not required to provide an ID to the arresting officer for a first offense, but subsequent DWI charges without driver ID carry harsh, additional penalties.
Anyone receiving a second DWI or obtaining a first-time DWI with other serious charges must be released on bond. Texas requires defendants with two DWI convictions within five years to install special breathalyzer ignition switches on their vehicle. It’s important to note that new technology has made it possible to “recognize” a person’s breathe. This means that a friend is unable to blow into the ignition breathalyzer to start the vehicle.
DWIs or DUIs obtained in other states count toward this total. Having a minor in the car can significantly increase penalties depending on the circumstances of the arrest. Alcohol-related collisions are very serious and can elevate charges to a state jail felony or felony assault charges. Refusal to take field sobriety or breathalyzer tests is automatically used as evidence against defendants that they were inebriated.
Additional Penalties to Probation
Judges have a wide arsenal of tools to help defendants with rehabilitation. The following are some of the penalties they may levy at offenders:
- DWI education classes. DWI education classes are typically used against first-time offenders, and completion of the class can sometimes help the defendant avoid having their license suspended. Drivers under 21 years of age cannot avoid license suspension.
- Victim impact panels. Defendants can be forced to attend groups composed of drivers convicted of DWIs.
- Community service.
- Complete sobriety. A judge may force a defendant to remain completely sober during their probation.
- Alcohol evaluations. Defendants may be required to submit to chemical testing. Tests will also screen for illegal drugs. Random chemical testing is used against defendants that are forced to stay sober during probation but may apply to other sentences, as well.
- Breathalyzer ignition added to vehicle. A judge may force defendants to install these on their cars, even for first offenses.