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Do Texans Want a Zero-Tolerance DWI Policy?

Hand rejecting alcoholic beer beverage

Survey results point to significant support, but what does that mean for your legal rights?

Despite the significant jail time, fines, and loss of license, there are many people in Texas who believe the state's DWI laws don't go far enough.

A new national survey asked more than 3,000 people if they would support "zero-tolerance" policies for drinking while intoxicated (DWI). In Texas, 43 percent of respondents say they are in favor of such a rule.

Zero-tolerance DWI or DUI (driving under the influence) charges are usually applied only to minors who are too young to legally drink alcohol. The rule would mean that the discovery of any alcohol in a driver's system is grounds for arrest.

Right now, the federal legal limit is 0.08 percent BAC (blood alcohol content). If it were reduced to 0 percent, then even drinking a small amount of alcohol an hour before driving could be considered DWI. With zero tolerance, it's even possible that using mouth wash - which is usually 14 to 27 percent alcohol -  before getting behind the wheel could be considered DWI.

DWI survey results

The survey, conducted by American Addiction Centers, polled public opinion on additional drinking-and-driving related questions. Other key findings include:

  • Nationwide, about 28 percent of people believe it is worse to use a cell phone while driving than it is to drive under the influence of alcohol.
  • 1 out of every 4 people say they would report a friend or family member who drives drunk.
  • More than 65 percent of survey respondents say drunk driving penalties are not harsh enough.

Texas DWI penalties

State-level data is not available for the DUI-penalty survey question. It would be interesting to see how Texans answered, though. Our state already has some of the harshest penalties in the country.

In Texas, a first offense DWI can lead to months in jail, thousands of dollars in fines, and loss of your driver's license for up to one year.

If convicted of a third offense (or more), the penalty may include up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Punishment often doesn't end after someone completes their sentence, either. Frequently, a DWI on a person's record can stop them from getting certain jobs, professional licenses, loans, and admission to educational programs.

Montgomery County DWI arrests

Montgomery County, in particular, is aggressive about charging people with DWI. An early-April check of the Montgomery County Jail Current Inmate List revealed more than 70 people imprisoned on DWI unresolved charges and convictions.

The specific drinking-and-driving-related charges on the roster include:

  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI) - third (or more) offense
  • Intoxicated manslaughter
  • Driving while intoxicated with children in the vehicle
  • Driving while intoxicated/open alcohol container
  • Driving while intoxicated with a BAC over 0.15 percent

Many people on the roster are in for more than a DWI charge. Additional charges included allegations of drug possession, evading arrest, unlicensed possession of a firearm, harassment of a public servant, resisting arrest, assault, and theft.

Contact a Texas DWI Lawyer today or a free and confidential case evaluation

There is a lot on the line for people facing DWI in the greater Houston area. If the state were to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for adults, it would almost certainly result in some people's lives being ruined.

When facing drunk driving charges in Texas, it is important to have an experienced DWI attorney fighting to protect your freedom. Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer has been successfully defending clients against criminal charges for years. A former Montgomery County assistant district attorney, Attorney Webb has an insider's knowledge of how the local criminal justice system works. She knows the DA's tactics and how to defend people against them.

If you are facing DWI charges in the greater Houston area or elsewhere in Montgomery County, contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer for a free case evaluation. At no cost to you, a member of our team will answer your questions, explain the charges and penalties you face, and help you weigh your legal options.

Do not wait. The sooner you call, the sooner we can start protecting your rights and your freedom. Contact us at our Conroe-based law firm today to schedule your free case evaluation. We are ready to hear from you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Can You Get a DWI on a Boat in Texas?

A group of men drink beer on a fishing boat in Texas.

Operating a vessel on Texas waters while intoxicated is dangerous...and illegal

Most of the time, driving while intoxicated charges stem from allegations that someone was operating their motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

However, in Texas, it’s possible to be charged with operating other types of vehicles and vessels while intoxicated – including engine-powered boats, personal watercraft, and sailboats.

More and more, people are facing Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) charges as the number of boating accidents has skyrocketed at destinations like Lake Conroe and Lake Houston. In 2020, Texas experienced 281 reported boating accidents, including 55 fatal boat crashes, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Alcohol was cited as a factor in about 30 serious Texas boating accidents in 2020, resulting in 35 injuries and 8 deaths.

Texas BWI penalties

If convicted, a BWI can result in serious penalties and affect your ability to operate a vehicle on water and land.

In cases where no one is injured, BWI is a misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum sentence of 72 hours confinement.

A first-time BWI conviction comes with a penalty of up to $2,000 in fines and up to 180 days in jail. Third BWI convictions can result in up to $10,000 in fines and 10 years imprisonment.

More than just BWI?

BWI is not the only charge you can face while operating a boat in Texas. If you injure someone when you're operating a boat while intoxicated, you could be charged with Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter. Even if you accidentally hurt someone, you can still be charged. Both are felonies.

You can also be charged with evading arrest if you try to escape the police in a watercraft.

Your license to operate a motor vehicle on land is automatically suspended if you are arrested for BWI, intoxication assault, intoxication manslaughter, or if BAC results show you have a level of 0.08 percent or higher.

Texas boating laws

Other Texas boating laws include “implied consent” and “stop and render aid.”

The implied consent law requires drivers and boat operators to submit to a BAC test if a police officer reasonably suspects them of drinking and driving. The standard for boating while intoxicated is the same as it is for DWI. Having a BAC (blood alcohol content) level of 0.08 percent or higher means a person is legally intoxicated.

Refusing to take a BAC test will most likely result in the suspension of your driver’s license for at least 180 days. For a lot of people, this suspension is preferable to creating evidence the police can use against them.

Texas also has a “stop and render aid” law that applies to boating. The statute requires vessel operators to stop and help accident victims unless doing so would endanger their own vessel, crew, or passengers.

Let a Texas BWI lawyer review your case

If you are facing BWI charges in Houston, The Woodlands, or Montgomery County, you can learn your legal rights and options during a free consultation with an experienced Texas BWI attorney.

Our law firm knows how to successfully defend boat operators and motorists in Texas, and we would be honored to speak with you about your potential legal case.

Contact us today.

Can I Get My Texas DWI Reduced to a Lesser Charge?

Law gavel, alcohol and car keys

A DWI Defense Attorney Explains Reduced Charges, Texas Plea Bargains

Texas has a reputation for harsh DWI penalties. So, it may be a little surprising to learn that it is among a minority of states where drunk driving suspects can plead down to lesser charges.

In most cases, your DWI defense attorney is going to work on getting your charges dropped or winning a favorable verdict. However, when circumstances make these outcomes unlikely, a plea deal may be an option worth considering.

Can Texas DWI charges be reduced?

The short answer here is, yes.

In general, county prosecutors are willing to reduce charges and make DWI plea deals because it saves their office and the court time and resources.

Still, it's not a good strategy to count on the prosecutor to come to you with an offer. In many cases, you need an advocate. An experienced DWI defense attorney is often necessary to investigate what happened, collect evidence, and negotiate for lesser charges.

Depending on the situation, a lawyer may be able to argue your DWI (driving while impaired also known as DUI) down to:

  • Obstruction of a highway, passageway, or roadway
  • Reckless driving
  • Public intoxication

Lesser Penalties

Reduced charges are not "get out of jail free" cards. They frequently carry their own significant penalties. These restrictions and punishments, however, are often preferable to DWI penalties.

DWI penalties in Texas are severe.

A first offense DWI conviction can be punished by up to 6 months imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines. Texas will also suspend your license to drive.

DWIs usually cannot be expunged. This stain on your record can make your life more difficult. DWI convictions often make it harder to lease an apartment, get a loan, find work, or enter a trade or higher education program.

Meanwhile, obstruction of a highway, passageway, or roadway and reckless driving can both be punished by jail time and fines but can be expunged from your record. Public intoxication is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

Arguing for Reduced Charges

A prosecutor is unlikely to offer you a plea deal if they think they have a solid case against you. A knowledgeable DWI defense attorney knows how to tear down flimsy "evidence" like breathalyzer results and prove the weaknesses in a DA's case.

Your attorney may be able to get a plea deal for you if the prosecutor's case is lacking:

  • BAC (blood alcohol content) test results from a blood, urine, or breath test
  • Physical evidence of alcohol consumption
  • Evidence that the alcohol you allegedly consumed significantly and negatively impacted your ability to drive
  • Reliable testimony

Plea deals are also often considered if a suspect's rights were violated during the arrest, search and seizure, or other law enforcement activities related to the charge.

When Your Freedom Is at Stake, Experience Matters

If you are facing DWI charges in the Conroe area or anywhere in Montgomery County, contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer right away.

Attorney Webb is a former Texas assistant district attorney with insider knowledge of the system and years of experience that gives her an edge when defending her clients.

We offer free case evaluations to people facing DWI charges in Montgomery County and the surrounding area. At no cost to you, a member of our team will listen to the details of your case and help you weigh your legal options.

Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.

What Happens if You Refuse a Breathalyzer in Texas?

Man in car is worried as he looks back and sees police lights flashing

A Texas DWI Lawyer & Defense Attorney Explains

Many people understand that drinking and driving penalties are harsh in Texas, but fewer people are aware of how best to avoid a DWI charge here.

One of the biggest things you can do to help save yourself from being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is to refuse to take a breathalyzer test.

In many circumstances, when you refuse a Texas breathalyzer request from a police officer, you are technically breaking an administrative law. However, the penalty for refusing to take a BAC breath test is a lot less burdensome than a DWI conviction.

There's more to declining a breathalyzer than just saying "no." After years of defending Texans charged with DWIs, our law firm has a deep understanding of what it means to refuse a BAC breath test, the penalties, and why someone might want to refuse a breathalyzer. The following are answers to common breathalyzer test questions.

In Texas, Do You Have To Take a Breathalyzer Test?

Like many states, Texas has the rule of "implied consent." Basically, when you got your Texas driver's license you agreed, by implication, that you will submit to a roadside or on-the-spot BAC (blood alcohol content) breathalyzer test if legally requested by law enforcement.

So, yes, the law does say you have to take a breathalyzer. However, many people choose to ignore this law. When you say "no" to a BAC breath test you are delaying BAC analysis and may avoid forced blood testing, too.

Why Say ‘No’ to a Breath Test?

Many people who understand their rights and freedoms choose to decline roadside breathalyzer tests requested under implied consent. This is because they would rather take the penalty than create potentially damning evidence for the police to use against them. Breathalyzer results are weak and not trustworthy. Still, a prosecutor may be able to convince a jury to take such flimsy data seriously.

In Texas, the penalty for refusing a roadside breathalyzer is administrative - an automatic 180-day driver's license suspension (first offense). The penalty that comes with a DWI conviction is criminal and far greater (suspension, fines, imprisonment, etc.). Also, you can appeal an implied consent suspension.

If You Refuse To Take a Breathalyzer – What Happens Next?

As we explained earlier, many states have implied consent. Texas takes this a step further with its "No Refusal" program. In most communities, No Refusal is a limited-time campaign in which police have extra muscle to force you to take a BAC test.

No Refusal gives police quick access to court warrants, forcing DWI suspects to take a blood BAC test if they refuse a breath one.

An officer may apply for a search warrant for a suspect's blood even when there isn't a running No Refusal campaign. However, the process is a lot faster to obtain under No Refusal.

Why not just take the breathalyzer?

Because No Refusal testing is not the same as a guaranteed BAC test.

Police do have faster access to blood search warrants through No Refusal. But judges don't just rubber-stamp these requests. The process for getting a No Refusal warrant can be long and complicated. And there is no certainty a judge will approve it. Even if an officer successfully obtains a warrant, there may not be a nearby facility available to make the blood draw.

Usually, No Refusal campaigns run for a weekend or a week or two around the holidays. Typically, campaign dates are announced by participating police departments and county district attorneys.

Some communities, though, have extended No Refusal programs. In Austin, for example, they are running a year-long NR campaign, October 2021 through September 2022.  In Conroe and Montgomery County, the district attorney teamed up with local police to run a No Refusal from Dec. 17, 2021, through Jan. 1, 2022.

Consult With a Texas DWI Defense Attorney for Free

Texas remains among the states with the harshest DWI penalties. If you are facing charges in Montgomery County or suspect they will soon be filed, contact us for a free case consultation.

Do not discuss your case with anyone else or accept a plea deal before consulting with an attorney. Amanda Webb is a former assistant district attorney. She knows how the system works and how to make it work for you.

Do not wait. Appeals and legal documents must be filed on time to meet strict deadlines. Contact our law firm right now to schedule a free case consultation.

Your Rights During a DWI Traffic Stop in Texas

Driver being subjected to a breathalyzer test to see if he's driving under the influence of alcohol.

A Texas DWI Lawyer Reveals What To Know

Many people have had this experience: You're driving home after a party, restaurant, or celebration and suddenly you see the blue lights of a police cruiser flashing in your rearview mirror. You pull over hoping they pass by, but instead, the officer pulls up behind you, gets out of the car, and says, "Do you know why I stopped you?"

All of a sudden, those couple of drinks you had earlier in the night start to weigh on your mind and you start to worry if you're going to be charged with drunk driving.

What do you do?

When getting pulled over by the police, it is important that you are aware of your legal rights ahead of time. This will help prevent you from accidentally incriminating yourself or otherwise providing evidence to support charges against you.

Pulled Over For DWI In Texas

What information do I have to give to police during a DWI stop?

You don't have to tell the police anything beyond your name and address. Be polite, provide documents they may request like your license registration, but do not answer questions. If the officer asks you how much you've had to drink or why they pulled you over, you have the right to remain silent and have a lawyer present with you during questioning.

What if I'm asked to take a field sobriety test?

If the officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, ask if you are free to leave. If the answer is yes, then leave. If the answer is no, ask to speak with an attorney before saying or doing anything else. Do not agree to perform a roadside test or have your eyes tested. These are voluntary.

Should I take a breathalyzer test?

No. Do not blow into a breathalyzer or otherwise take a breath test to measure BAC (blood alcohol content) levels. In Texas, refusing to take a breathalyzer will almost certainly get your license suspended. However, many people prefer this over providing information to the police that will be used against them. Breathalyzer tests are unreliable, but many juries still find them convincing. It is best to avoid them.

If I don't take any sobriety tests, can I still be charged with DWI?

Yes. The police can press driving while impaired charges against you even if you didn't drink alcohol. Impairment counts as anything that alters your state of mind to the point where you can no longer safely control your vehicle. A person can be impaired by alcohol as well as drugs, fatigue, illness, in addition to other circumstances. If a police officer believes you cannot safely operate your car, truck, or motorcycle, they can usually arrest you on an impairment charge.

So, stand up straight and be alert. The police officer is looking for any signs of impairment that they can use against you to build a DWI charge. Simply leaning against your car could be interpreted as the act of someone who needs help balancing.

Talk to a DWI Defense Attorney Today

If you're in the Montgomery County area and you're facing DWI or other impairment-related charges, contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer for a free case evaluation. We are located in Conroe and can be contacted 24/7 by phone, email, or online chat. Protect yourself and your rights. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you.