DWI & Criminal Defense Attorney,
Available 24/7

What Happens if You Get Convicted of a DWI in Texas?

A young woman, being stopped by police at night for a traffic violation.

A Texas DWI lawyer & defense attorney explains

Texas has some of the stiffest DWI penalties in the U.S.

With so much at stake, we are often asked "What happens if I get convicted of DWI?"

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) carries many penalties in Texas, potentially including thousands of dollars in fines, imprisonment, and loss of driving privileges. It often also means a period of DWI probation. In Texas, probation is also known as "community supervision."

A Texas DWI conviction can be very expensive, too. Between bail, legal fees, court appearances, court-ordered classes, car insurance hikes, and other expenses, the cost of a single DWI can be $17,000 or more, according to a study done back in 2010. The cost of a single DWI has increased significantly since then. That's why if you're facing charges, you should consult with an experienced DWI lawyer who knows how to craft a strong defense.

DWI penalties in Texas

What happens if you get convicted of a DWI largely depends on your age, blood alcohol content (BAC) level, and driving history. Texas has separate charges for underage drivers and adults who get behind the wheel too drunk to drive. The state also gives out additional penalties to people who were allegedly driving with a "high" BAC defined as anything 0.15 or more (0.08 is the legal BAC limit for operating a passenger vehicle).

Most states wipe a DWI from your record after years of good behavior. Some require as many as 10 years of good driving. Texas, however, never wipes a DWI from your record.

Texas has specific penalties for first, second, third, and subsequent DWI convictions. Your first offense may lead to up to 1 year of imprisonment. A third or subsequent conviction is a felony and can get you a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment and $10,000 in fines. If bodily harm is done, a judge can sentence you to imprisonment for up to 20 years.

For a first offense, people lose their driving privileges for 90 days unless an exemption can be negotiated.

DWI probation

Most DWI convictions include a period of community supervision (probation). This can be expensive. Community supervision often includes paying for classes, additional fees, and rehab. Attending driver education classes, therapy sessions, and doing community service are all typically expected to be done during your license suspension, which can be a hassle as well as expensive.

In general, terms of DWI probation include:

  • No less than 72 hours of continuous confinement in a county jail all the way up to no less than 120 days of confinement for repeat offenders
  • Check-ins with a supervisory officer
  • Pay for all or part of rehabilitation services for drug or alcohol abuse
  • Complete drug and/or alcohol abuse programs
  • Submit to a court-ordered evaluation
  • Completion of a driver education program before the 181st day after the start of community supervision

In addition to terms of your sentence and probation, Texas will most likely require you to pay a state fee of $3,000 to $6,000.

Facing charges in Texas? Protect your rights and call a DWI attorney

In Texas, a DWI conviction can have serious and long-lasting repercussions. Your auto insurance provider may drop you after a DWI. You may be forced to purchase insurance on the secondary market at an average increase of 44% of your current rate. A DWI conviction can make it difficult to get a good job, professional licenses, housing, loans, and education.

If you have been charged with drunk driving in Texas or think charges are coming, schedule a free case review with an experienced DWI defense attorney.

Attorney Amanda Webb has a reputation for successfully fighting back against DWI charges. She has a deep understanding of the law and how prosecutors think. And she knows what it takes to get the best possible outcome in your case. To find out how we can help you, contact us today.

State Auditor Calls For Dismissal Of 'Invalid' DUI Evidence

a man in a suit blowing into a breathalyzer while sitting down at a desk with a police officer

A state audit of the Attorney General's Office is raising questions about whether invalid equipment was used in North Dakota DWI breathalyzer tests from 2018 to 2020.

Almost three dozen expired or otherwise unapproved gas canisters were allegedly used in DWI (driving while intoxicated) breathalyzer tests during those two years, according to the results of a routine investigation by the State Auditor. DWI breathalyzer tests attempt to measure a person's BAC (blood alcohol content) level by analyzing exhaled particles. The legal limit for DWI, also known as DUI or driving under the influence, is 0.08% BAC.

The discovery invalidates 34 tests conducted using degraded equipment and casts doubt on the accuracy of thousands of other DUI tests done in the state as well, the auditor says. According to the audit, this corrupted evidence should be dismissed from use in court. 

Can't trust a breathalyzer

If reading this blog is giving you deja vu, that's understandable.

Investigations that highlight failures of the DUI breathalyzer test are becoming routine. The breathalyzer's reputation is getting the criticism it should have gotten a long time ago. Within the last year or so, a handful of scandals have seriously discredited the flawed equipment. Many district attorney's offices don't even bother to submit breathalyzer results as evidence in DUI trials. In the Midwest, there is a state police force alleging poor machine maintenance may have skewed results.

Attorney Amanda Webb pushes back against prosecutors who want you to think their DWI case against you is strong. Our law firm has built a reputation in Conroe and the greater Houston area for exposing shoddy evidence and discrediting charges. As a former assistant district attorney, Amanda Webb is deeply familiar with the state’s criminal justice system. She uses this knowledge to fight for people facing DWI charges in Texas. Our legal team doesn't accept a prosecutor's narrative or police report as facts. We dig deep to find out exactly what happened so that we can fight for the best possible outcome of your case. 

AG denies audit

Despite its many shortcomings, some law enforcement and justice department officials still have faith in breathalyzers. The North Dakota AG, for one, refuses to believe the state audit.

The attorney general there says he does not accept the report. He says that there are measures in place to prevent the use of expired or otherwise unreliable equipment during DUI tests, according to local media. He did not explain how the auditor found 34 instances across 11 jurisdictions where expired or otherwise defective gas canisters were used in breathalyzer tests.

Auditors reviewed more than 8,900 tests analyzed by the State Crime Laboratory from 2018 to 020. In breath tests, gas standard canisters work as a check to make sure that the equipment is working correctly and is properly calibrated. If the machine isn't set up correctly in the first place, the results cannot be trusted.

To prevent the further use of faulty equipment in DUI tests, the auditor recommends that the lab have someone inspect and ensure gas canisters are "approved and replaced" before the expiration dates.

The attorney general says that there is no need for action: The state is transitioning away from using the machines that utilized the invalid canisters creating inaccurate results. The Intoxilyzer 8000 style breathalyzers are being replaced with Intoxilyzer 9000s. There are plans to replace around 120 machines over the next two years. The 9000 model has a feature the manufacturer says will stop it from running a test if the gas canister is not valid.

The status of the 34 cases involving invalid tests is not clear. Nor is it clear how the audit will impact the thousands of other tests conducted from 2018 to 2020.

Breathalyzer scandals

Even without the discovery of faulty gas canisters, there are many ways a breathalyzer DUI test can be corrupted. Among the things that can influence the results of a breathalyzer are improper sample handling, human error, inaccurate interpretation of results, and defective equipment. Recent news that further discredits breathalyzer results includes:

  • Poor test-result quality leads to the possible reevaluation of more than 25,000 past DUI convictions in Massachusetts. Almost every district attorney's office no longer submits breathalyzer results as DUI trial evidence. New Jersey is in a similar situation.
  • The Michigan State Police allege the company hired to calibrate their breathalyzer equipment produced false records.
  • Recalled test tubes were used by law enforcement nationwide in possibly thousands of breathalyzer tests to support DUI charges. The lab equipment was recalled because some of the tubes in a batch of more than 100,000 did not contain a chemical necessary to properly preserve the sample for testing.
  • In Georgia, local and state law enforcement are transitioning away from breath BAC tests in favor of blood analysis. The state is using grants to train officers to properly draw blood and purchase necessary equipment. 

Don't take chances with your future

In Texas, the breathalyzer still has a large role in DWI arrests and charges.

Some prosecutors still like to hold up stationary breathalyzer test results as bulletproof evidence. Police use roadside breath tests to help establish probable cause. If you are facing DWI charges in Conroe or the greater Houston area, you need a criminal defense attorney who understands what it takes to get charges reduced or dropped.

Our law firm is aggressive about defending you when your future is on the line. We understand how damaging a driving while intoxicated charge can be to the life you have built. The harsh penalties available to judges include imprisonment, large fines, community service, and loss of your driver’s license, among other punishments.

Don't delay. Get an experienced Texas DWI lawyer and defense attorney by your side. Contact us today to schedule a free case review.

Should DWI Blood Tests Replace the Breathalyzer?

Driver being subject to test for alcohol content with use of breathalyzer

A Texas DWI attorney reveals everything you need to know

With faith in breathalyzer results plummeting, law enforcement is seeking to find new forms of evidence to present at DWI trials.

The formerly "bulletproof" breathalyzer results being used as driving while intoxicated (DWI) evidence has a lot of dents in its armor. The reputation of breathalyzer results is so poor that in some states, prosecutors won't even admit breath tests into evidence.

More and more, police departments are analyzing a drunk driving suspect's blood instead of breath to determine BAC (blood alcohol content) levels. The legal limit is 0.08 BAC. Some states are investing more in blood draws than others. In Georgia, the state recently won a grant to purchase equipment and train almost 100 state and local police officers on how to draw blood for BAC analysis.

Texas DWI and "No Refusal"

In Texas, the breathalyzer is still a law enforcement tool. Despite the breathalyzer's proven track record of delivering bogus results, Texas counties and communities run "No Refusal" campaigns. These temporary programs give police a little extra muscle to force people to submit to screenings.

"No Refusal" is a strategy to crack down on drunk driving by stepping up DWI enforcement, BAC testing, and arrests. The program creates special circumstances that allow for speedy access to DWI-related court warrants. If someone refuses to submit to a breath or blood BAC test during a "No Refusal" campaign, they can be forced to take one by a judge. Most "No Refusal" campaigns in Texas are held around the holidays, but Tarrant County has forced testing all year.

BAC test shortfalls

The justice system is beginning to admit breathalyzer shortfalls — and that's great. Their shift to blood tests, however, is not. Blood tests are more invasive and can scan for more than just alcohol. A blood draw done to support a driving under the influence (DUI) charge may be able to identify drugs and polysubstances, as well.

While blood tests can produce more information than those that process breath, they are open to many of the same outside factors that could destroy the accuracy of the test results.

In Michigan, the State Police, and subsequently many local police departments, stopped using breathalyzers over allegations that the equipment wasn't properly maintained. Police are accusing the company hired to calibrate the machines of providing them with fraudulent work documents. Just as breath test equipment can be in poor condition, so too can blood testing devices.

This is just one example of how blood and breath test results can be skewed.

Challenging DWI blood test results

There are a lot of ways DWI blood tests can be wrong. Drawing blood is a multi-step process that involves various equipment and many opportunities to introduce errors. Outside factors that could make DWI blood test results look worse include:

  • Improper sample handling that leads to contamination
  • Delay in time of draw and actual analysis
  • Human error
  • Defective equipment
  • Improper sample preservation that leads to fermentation
  • Inaccurate interpretation of results

We have already seen examples of how easy it is to throw off a blood test. Thousands of DWI convictions were thrown into doubt when it was discovered that police departments across the U.S. were using blood sample vials that had been recalled. Hundreds of thousands of test tubes were recalled in 2019 because some vials in the batch did not contain the chemicals necessary to preserve the samples. While many police departments were notified about the recall and returned the vials, other police departments didn't get the memo.

Legal help is available when you've been charged with DWI

At The Webb Law Firm, P.C. we have years of experience exposing unreliable BAC results. We break down seemingly "solid" evidence and reveal prosecutor tricks to get desirable outcomes for our clients. Texas hands down harsh verdicts for DWI convictions. If you are facing DWI charges or suspect they are forthcoming, contact us today for a free case evaluation with an experienced Texas DWI defense lawyer to find out how we can help you.

We proudly serve clients in the greater Houston area, Conroe, The Woodlands, Waller, and all of Montgomery County. We are ready to hear from you 24/7.

Can a breathalyzer tell the difference between mouthwash and vodka?

Close-up Of A Man Rinsing His Mouth With Mouthwash

It recently took a reporter a little over 20 minutes to prove just how unreliable breathalyzer BAC results really are.

From the KPRC 2's studio, a reporter in a suit and glasses tests whether a widely available handheld breathalyzer can distinguish between mouthwash and booze. The news team decides to review the Smartgear Digital Pocket-Sized Breathalyzer, which sells for about $25 to $30.

First, the reporter swallows a jigger of Tito's vodka then waits 20 minutes before blowing into the breathalyzer. The device measures a 0.01 BAC (blood alcohol content).

The reporter then swishes with blue Listerine, a powerful mint mouthwash, and, again, waits 2o minutes. This is the standard amount of time an officer waits before administering a breath test. Police protocol says they should keep suspects under observation for 20 minutes before using a breathalyzer. The point is to make sure that the suspect does not eat or drink something that may impact results.

This time, after using the mouthwash, the breathalyzer reports a 0.06 BAC.

The legal limit to drive is 0.08 BAC — at this point, you are considered legally drunk regardless of how the alcohol affects you.

The reporter concludes that the breathalyzer can be "tripped up" by mouthwash.

Breathalyzer shortfalls are nothing new

Breathalyzers are an inaccurate piece of equipment that, for decades, have been relied on by law enforcement and the legal system to determine DWI convictions. Breathalyzer results used to be "bullet-proof" evidence of someone's drunk driving. Now, the equipment is being discredited more and more.

In some states, for example, they won't even use breathalyzer results in drunk driving trials. In Texas, however, the breathalyzer is still of value — even though we now see that it might not be able to tell the difference between using mouthwash and doing shots at a bar.

For the most part, Texas does not allow handheld breathalyzer results at trial. Still, the data makes its way into court cases. Police officers still use handheld tests in the field. The results, they say, can show a cause for arrest. This means if a prosecutor asks an officer in front of a jury what factored into their decision to arrest and they say the breathalyzer results, the jury can read the results between the lines.

Breathalyzer test results can be submitted in Texas court if they were produced by a stationary breathalyzer such as the Intoxilyzer 9000. When calibrated correctly, which isn't always the case, breath tests done by a police officer on this machine can be convincing for a jury.

Even though breath tests are being discredited more and more, Texans facing DWI charges still need sharp defense attorneys to fight against allegations and unreliable evidence.

What causes false breathalyzer results?

Oral hygiene isn't the only thing that can throw off breathalyzer results. The following are some other common substances and situations that can skew results:

  • Asthma and over-the-counter medications — Some medications contain alcohol and could trigger a false positive.
  • Bread and pastries — Baked goods made with yeast cause fermentation in the dough. It's not enough to get you drunk, but if you have dough stuck in your teeth from a bready snack, the food could impact breathalyzer results.
  • Acid reflux — When you have this problem or another gastrointestinal issue, there is a good chance that foods your body should be further digesting are rising up in you as gasses and vapors. They could include the concentrated odor of alcohol, which could raise your BAC read-out.
  • Diabetics and people on low-carb diets — Some diets raise the level of ketones in your body, which are typically a byproduct of alcohol metabolism.
  • Emotional state — Stress can divert blood to your muscles and away from your stomach, thus slowing down the rate of alcohol absorption.
  • Human error — Mistakes happen. Even the most dedicated officer can mess up on a breathalyzer test. That doesn't mean you should suffer for someone else's mistakes. Far more troubling, there is evidence that undertrained officers have been administering breathalyzer tests in some states, putting even more DWI convictions under the microscope.

Texas DWI penalties can be severe

The penalties for DWI convictions in Texas are harsh.

For a first offense, (if your BAC is under .15) your sentence could include a:

  • fine of up to $2,000
  • up to 180 days in jail
  • up to one-year loss of driver's license
  • "state fine" of $3,000
  • If your BAC is over .15 you are facing a fine up to $4,000, and a “state fine” of $6,000.
  • If there is a child in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the fine could be up to $10,000 and you could get up to two years in jail.

The experience you want. The aggressive defense you need.

When your freedom and financial stability are on the line, you need an experienced DWI lawyer who can expose the weakness of a prosecutor's alleged evidence against you. Attorney Amanda Webb is a highly skilled DWI defense lawyer who fights for the rights of Texans facing drunk driving and other charges. A former assistant district attorney, attorney Webb gives her clients an insider's perspective on their cases and knows what it takes to get charges reduced or dropped.

If you are facing DWI charges in Conroe or the greater Houston region, contact DWI defense lawyer Amanda Webb for a free case evaluation. A member of our legal team will listen to you and let you know how our law firm can help you. We are ready to hear from you today—call or email us right now.

Trend: Massachusetts prosecutors stop using breathalyzer results in court

A police officer holds a breath test machine in his hand ready at a traffic stop with his patrol car in the background.*the officer was blurred on purpose to place focus on the mouth piece.

Massachusetts district attorneys just joined a growing movement to stop using breathalyzer results in driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases.

DWI defense attorneys have known for a long time about the many ways breathalyzers can produce inaccurate results. Now, prosecutors are finding it harder to defend the use of the faulty equipment.

Nearly all of Massachusetts' district attorneys now say that they no longer use breathalyzer results when building a DWI case or only use the data in rare instances.

Michigan's prosecutors have also declined to use the equipment at trial. The police there stopped using them, too. Now Michigan officers take suspected drunk drivers to local hospitals for drawn-blood alcohol analysis.

New Jersey is in a similar situation to Massachusetts. The state discovered poorly maintained breathalyzers led to thousands of possibly inaccurate results.

Florida and Pennsylvania have also put the roadside breath tests under more scrutiny.

Breathalyzer failures

In Massachusetts, the decision to ditch the breath tests may have been influenced by the recent discovery that, from June 2011 to about April 2019, many breathalyzer machines were not properly calibrated.

It has now also come to light that some of the people administering the breathalyzer tests were not properly certified to do so.

In late spring, Massachusetts' local prosecutors notified their communities of about 27,000 DWI convictions involving breathalyzer results that may be overturned. People interested in getting a second shot at justice must file for an appeal.

While district attorneys are declining to use the equipment, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's administration and state police are standing by them. State officials say very few uncertified officers administered the tests during the time in question. A trusted calibration schedule would put the alcohol-detection tool back in proper use, they say.

For those who know better, these are hardly reassurances of the test's accuracy. Even before their glaring failures were revealed, savvy defense lawyers were aware of the many ways breath tests can be wrong.

Texas' take on the breathalyzer

In Texas, portable breathalyzers are still used by police. The results of these roadside tests are not admissible in court for criminal prosecutions or in administrative license revocations, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Some prosecutors try to get around the ban by asking the administering officer to testify in court that they gave the suspect a breathalyzer test and that, soon after, the person was arrested.

While roadside breath tests are not allowed at trial, breath tests and blood-drawn BAC results conducted at a police station can be presented to a jury.

Texas police use the roadside breath tests, instead, to determine probable cause, which can justify further investigation of a suspect. Before administering the tests, Texas police are required to be in the suspect's presence for at least 15 minutes. This way an officer can be sure that nothing has come up from or gone into the suspect that would influence results.

Breathalyzers are often unreliable

Breathalyzer results have never been a foolproof way to determine whether someone is driving drunk.  Outside factors easily impact results, like:

  • Residual mouth alcohol
  • User error
  • Stomach problems
  • Burping
  • Some medical conditions
  • Chemical exposure
  • Poor equipment maintenance and cleanliness

Under perfect conditions, breathalyzers may deliver trustworthy results. However, outside of a university lab, these conditions rarely exist.

Beating the breath test

For decades, prosecutors and police convinced juries that you "can't beat a breathalyzer," but more and more evidence is exposing this lie.

Many cops and DAs still want you to believe that breathalyzer results are bulletproof when, in fact, they're far from it.

Were you arrested or charged with DWI in Conroe or the greater Houston area? Call DWI defense lawyer Amanda Webb for a free case evaluation.

We can help you weigh your options and come up with a strategy to secure justice for you.