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Types of DWI charges in Texas

DWI charges in Texas

There are many different types of DWI charges in Texas that carry serious legal and lifelong consequences. Below, Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer discusses the types of charges and consequences you may face if pulled over and arrested for drunk driving.

If you're arrested and charged with a DWI, it's critical that you speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. We can help you devise an effective legal defense by disputing the breath or chemical test results and potential errors police made during your traffic stop and arrest.

Misdemeanor DWI charges

If you've been charged with a DWI in Texas, the stakes are high, even if it's your first drunk driving arrest. A first-time DWI offense (with a BAC of .08 percent but below .15 percent) is deemed a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. The same consequences apply if you were charged with boating while intoxicated. The penalties for this type of charge are:

  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • $2,000 fine
  • Driver's license suspension between 90 days and one year
  • Driver's license reinstatement fee of $3,000
  • Probation

If your BAC was .15 percent or higher, you could face the same legal consequences as someone charged with a second DWI if convicted.

A second DWI offense is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. If convicted, you could face:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • Possible driver's license suspension between 180 days and two years

Felony DWI charges

Texas takes a hard stance against repeat DWI offenders. If you are convicted of a third or subsequent DWI charge, you will likely go to prison for 2-10 years and have a third-degree felony on your record. Additionally, you could have to pay a fine of up to $10,000 and have your license suspended for up to two years.

If you cause a crash that injures another person while under the influence of alcohol, you can be charged with intoxication assault, in addition to DWI. This carries the same penalties as a third or subsequent DWI conviction. You can also be convicted of a felony DWI if you had a child under the age of 15 in your car at the time of your arrest.

The most severe felony DWI charge in Texas is intoxication manslaughter. This occurs when a drunk driver kills another person in a crash. It is a second-degree felony in Texas and carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

After serving your prison sentence and paying the fine, the consequences will follow you for several years. For example, you will:

  • Have to install an ignition interlock device in your car.
  • Have to complete 160-600 hours of community service and an alcohol rehabilitation treatment program.
  • Lose your right to vote and own a firearm.

In addition, many employers will not hire you if you have a pending felony or a felony conviction.

Contact a Texas lawyer today to defend your rights

The DWI defense lawyers at Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer will ensure that you are treated fairly in the justice system. If you're facing charges, contact us online or call our Conroe law office to discuss the next steps. We'll review the details surrounding your arrest and work tirelessly to help you fight the charges. Our case evaluations are free and confidential.

Getting your driver's license reinstated after a DWI arrest

Texas DWI attorney

The consequences of a DWI charge in Texas can be harsh. If it's your first time being arrested for DWI, you face the risk of spending 3-180 days in jail and paying a fine of up to $2,000. More immediately, you will likely have your driver's license suspended for up to one year. This can have an impact on your life, including your ability to get to work and earn a living.

You shouldn't have to give up your job and livelihood because of a DWI arrest, however. Attorney Amanda Webb can discuss your options if you were arrested, and can help you get your license reinstated.

Requirements you must meet before your driver's license can be reinstated

In order to be eligible for a driver's license reinstatement, you must first do the following:

  • Show proof that you have completed an alcohol education program. This may include a 12-hour DWI Intervention Program or a 32-hour DWI Repeat Offender Program. You must then provide certification of completion.
  • Pay for your driver's license reinstatement fee. Reinstatement fees can be paid online at the Texas Department of Public Safety Driver License Division's website.
  • Purchase SR-22 car insurance (also called Financial Responsibility Insurance). You must purchase and maintain this type of insurance for at least two years from an authorized insurance company.

Once you have completed these requirements, you must apply for a driver's license reinstatement or a new driver's license. You can obtain the appropriate paperwork at the Texas Department of Public Safety's website.

Restoring your driving privileges while your DWI case is pending

You don't need to wait an entire year to get your driving privileges back. While you should never drive with a suspended license, you can obtain a restricted or occupational driver's license while your DWI case is pending. This will allow you to drive to get to work, school, medical appointments and to address family needs. You would not be able to drive under any other circumstance, however. This type of license is only valid for 12 hours within a 24-hour period, but that time frame can be specifically tailored to your needs.

Why hire a DWI lawyer?

If you were arrested and charged with a DWI, you may not be fully aware of your rights and legal options. It's best to discuss your matter with an experienced Texas DWI lawyer who understands the law and how the justice system works. The attorneys at Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer will not only help you restore your driving privileges, but we will also devise a strong legal defense to help you avoid a DWI conviction.

To set up your free DWI case evaluation, contact us online or call our Conroe, Texas law office.

Can a field sobriety test be used against me if I was arrested for DWI?

Field sobriety test

 

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) was first implemented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the 1970s and 1980s. During this period, U.S. transportation officials and researchers sought effective ways to address the disproportionately high drunk driving fatality rate. The SFST is a battery of three exercises. These exercises are used by law enforcement officers to determine if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol. These three tests include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. Everyone's eyes tend to jerk and dart when rotating at certain angles. This is known as nystagmus. For people who are impaired by alcohol, eye jerking is more pronounced. During an HGN test, a police officer will ask you to follow a moving object (such as a pen or small flashlight) with your eyes from side to side.
  • Walk-and-Turn Test. An officer will ask you to take steps heel-to-toe in a straight line, then turn on one foot and repeat. An officer may suspect that you are impaired if you have trouble keeping your balance or following directions.
  • One-Leg Stand Test. An officer will ask you to stand on one leg with the other foot six inches off the ground. The officer will then ask you to count while balancing on one leg until further notice. If you have trouble balancing, hop on one foot, or put your foot down, the officer may suspect that you are impaired.

Do I have the right to refuse a field sobriety test?

In the event that you're pulled over by police, there is a chance they could suspect that you have been drinking and driving. The last thing you want to do is feed their suspicion by giving a reason to further probe you.

If you agree to take the SFST, your performance could give the officer probable cause to administer a breath test, search your car or even make an arrest. You have nothing to gain by taking a field sobriety test, so it's best to avoid it. In fact, you are under no obligation to take the SFST in Texas, nor are there any legal consequences for refusing to take it. Under Texas's implied consent law, you are required to take a breath or chemical test, however.

What if I already took a field sobriety test before my arrest?

If you already took the SFST before your arrest, the results could potentially be used against you in court. The results can just as easily be disputed by an experienced Texas DWI attorney, however. Here are some common reasons why the results can be disputed:

  • The results of the SFST are only admissible if the test is properly administered. There are some officers who are poorly trained in giving the SFST. They may give inaccurate instructions or fail to comply with the NHTSA requirements. The validity of these results is compromised if not administered correctly, and therefore, inadmissible in court.
  • It's very difficult to perform a field sobriety exercise, even for most sober people. Let's face it. If you asked the average person to stand on one leg for some time or walk heel-to-toe, there's a good chance they might stumble. Your inability to adequately perform a one-leg stand or heel-to-toe walk doesn't equate to being impaired by alcohol. There are many people who don't have the physical coordination to perform these exercises. Being overweight or elderly can also make it extremely difficult. In fact, when the early SFST studies were conducted by the NHTSA and the Southern California Research Institute, the following people were excluded from participation because they had difficulties performing the exercises:
    • People ages 65 and older
    • Those who had back, leg, or inner ear problems
    • Those who were overweight by 50 lbs. or more
  • Certain medical problems can make it difficult to perform these exercises. Injuries to the head, arms, legs, feet, back, neck, and eyes can affect a driver's ability to perform the SFST. Balance and coordination can also be affected by vertigo, low blood pressure, fatigue, certain neurological conditions, anxiety and the use of certain medications.

Put experience on your side

If you were arrested and charged with DWI in Texas, your freedom and future could be at stake. For a first-time conviction, you'll likely face up to 180 days in jail, pay a fine of up to $2,000, and lose your driver's license for up to one year. These consequences can have a significant impact on your life and the ability to pursue or maintain employment.

It's critical that you promptly consult with an attorney who has the courtroom experience and legal knowledge to help you fight the charges. Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer knows how the criminal justice system in Texas works. Contact us online or call us to find out how we can help you.

What are the penalties for a DWI conviction in Texas?

Texas DWI attorney

When it comes to drunk driving, Texas doesn't mess around. If you're pulled over by police, they will ask questions, administer roadside tests, and observe your behavior to determine if you were driving impaired. You could be placed under arrest if they find that you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. You could then be facing harsh legal consequences if convicted of DWI.

Texas police tend to be more aggressive when searching for DWI suspects at night, during holidays, or other times when people are most likely to consume alcohol. An experienced Texas DWI attorney discusses the penalties you could likely face if you're arrested and charged.

DWI penalties in Texas

According to Texas Penal Code Title 10, Chapter 49, these are the penalties you could face if convicted for DWI in Texas:

  • A first time DWI conviction can result in:
    • Up to 180 days in jail (3 days of which are mandatory)
    • A fine of up to $2,000
    • Loss of driver's license for up to one year
  • A second DWI conviction can result in:
    • Up to a year in jail (one month of which is mandatory)
    • A fine of up to $4,000
    • Loss of driver's license for up to two years
  • A third DWI conviction can result in:
    • Up to 10 years in prison (two years of which are mandatory)
    • A fine of up to $10,000
    • Loss of driver's license for up to two years
  • A conviction for driving drunk with a child passenger can result in:
    • Up to two years in jail
    • A fine of up to $10,000
    • Loss of driver's license for up to two years
  • Those convicted of DWI in Texas also face state fines between $3,000 and $6,000.

How to take your case seriously from the start

Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer has seen how certain mistakes can lead to innocent people being convicted of DWI. First, remember that the police can interpret anything you say as an admittance of guilt. You could argue during a traffic stop that you didn't have anything to drink, or you only had a few drinks. Arguing for your innocence is more dangerous than you think. It's best to exercise your right to remain silent and consult with an attorney if you are placed under arrest.

It's also important to acknowledge that police sometimes make errors that lead to DWI arrests. For example, the breath tests that police administer have been found to be flawed and have yielded inaccurate results in many cases. You are required to take a breath test if it's administered by an officer under Texas's implied consent law, but the test doesn't prove your guilt by itself. Even if it reads a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, your attorney can dispute these results in court.

If you're facing DWI charges, the attorneys at Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer can devise a strong legal defense to help you fight the charges. We know that no two cases are alike. We'll launch a thorough investigation into your arrest and the methods used by police to gather incriminating evidence against you. To find out how we can help, contact our Texas law firm and schedule your free DWI case evaluation.

Commonly asked questions about DWI in Texas

Texas DWI attorney

Being charged with a DWI in Texas is a serious matter. Not only will you face the immediate legal consequences of jail time, hefty fines and loss of driving privileges if convicted, you could have a difficult time finding employment for years after.

Should you find yourself stopped by police or facing DWI charges, it's critical that you know your rights. The attorneys at Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer answer the most crucial questions regarding traffic stops, roadside tests and DWI arrests.

Are sobriety checkpoints legal in Texas?

Sobriety checkpoints are conducted in most states, but not in Texas. That's because Texas's interpretation of the U.S. constitution in a 1991 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling stated it violated drivers' Fourth Amendment rights. This interpretation of the law was a specific ban on sobriety checkpoints.

Just because checkpoints aren't legal in Texas doesn't mean police won't use other methods to catch suspected drunk drivers. If you are driving late at night or during a holiday weekend — when police are most likely to crack down on drunk drivers — an officer may follow you or pull you over for the smallest infraction.

What should I expect during a traffic stop?

If you're pulled over by police, it's important that you remain as calm as possible and do what is required of you. You are required to give the officer your driver's license and vehicle registration. You are also required to give the officer your name and essential information, and get out of your car if you're asked to do so.

Here's what you're not required to do at a traffic stop:

  • Answer any other questions an officer asks you. This might include questions like:
    • How much have you had to drink tonight?
    • Where are you coming from?
    • What are you up to?
    • Where are you going?
  • Agree to a vehicle search without a warrant. If an officer doesn't have a warrant to search your car, you are under no obligation to agree to a search. If an officer searches your car without your consent, any evidence produced against you will be inadmissible in court.

Am I required to take a field sobriety test?

Police often administer field sobriety tests to determine if a person suspected of drunk driving is intoxicated. There are generally three field sobriety tests:

  • The walk and turn test — walking toe-to-heel, turning and repeating.
  • One leg stand test — standing on one leg and counting until asked to stop.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test — following a small object side-to-side with your eyes.

In Texas, you are not required to take this test. There are no legal consequences for refusing a field sobriety test.

Do I have to take a breath test?

Technically, you can refuse to take a breath test, but you will face legal consequences in Texas. Under Texas's implied consent law, you could lose your driver's license for 180 days if it's your first time refusing a breath test.

Penalties can become more serious for second or subsequent refusals. In many cases, the results from a breath test are inaccurate. If you're facing DWI charges based on the breath test results, an experienced Texas attorney can dispute the results in court.

What happens if I'm charged with more than one DWI?

A first-time offense results in six months in jail, a $2,000 fine, license suspension from 90 days to one year, and a license reinstatement fee of $3,000. If you're charged with a second or subsequent DWI in Texas, you could face harsh legal consequences.

For a second DWI conviction, you could face:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • Possible driver's license suspension between 180 days and two years

For a third DWI conviction, you could face:

  • A felony charge
  • 2-10 years of incarceration
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Driver's license suspension for up to two years

What is the best way to fight my Texas DWI charge?

The best way to fight a DWI charge is to practice your right to remain silent and consult with an experienced Texas DWI defense attorney as soon as possible. Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer can investigate the details surrounding your arrest and the evidence brought against you. Our lawyers will present the facts and devise a legal strategy to help you fight the charges in court.

To find out how we can help you, fill out our online contact form and schedule your free case evaluation.