Houston, TX, is one place you do not want to be convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI). Courts have a low tolerance for DWI offenders and shell out harsh punishments and penalties for convictions at any level. On top of it all, you risk damage to your personal and professional reputation, as well as to your career, family, and future earning capacity. If you have been charged with DWI, having a Houston DWI lawyer who knows and wants to protect your rights goes a long way toward fighting for the best possible outcome of your case.
We are committed to helping you move past this DWI arrest with minimal repercussions. Call Blass Law at (832) 430-7728 for a review of your case and consultation.
How a Houston DWI Attorney Can Help you Build a Strong Case
A DWI conviction imposes serious, life-altering effects on the offender. A Houston DWI lawyer at Blass Law can fight to ensure the best results working toward dismissal of the case or a reduction in charges.
Other things that our team will do include:
- Keeping you aware of any developments that occur in the case
- Informing you of the things you can do to help the case
- Searching for evidence that supports your case
- Filing subpoenas for discovery
- Scrutinizing the evidence provided by the State
- Ensuring that a team member is always available to answer your questions
What are the Penalties for a DWI in Texas?
There are two parts to a driving while intoxicated case: the driver’s license case and the criminal case.
Driver’s License Penalties
When a person is arrested for DWI and refuses to give a specimen of their breath and/or blood, or they give a sample of their breath or blood that has a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.08, the Texas Department of Public Safety tries to suspend their driver’s license. This can result in a driver’s license suspension of 90 days, provided the individual agreed to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test in Houston and provided a sample showing an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater.
If the driver refused a breath or blood test, the driver could face a minimum 180-day license suspension from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Note that this possible driver’s license suspension is separate from the criminal case.
First-offense DWIs in Houston are typically Class B misdemeanors. However, exceptions do apply as follows:
- If the arresting officer discovers an open container of alcohol in the vehicle as you were operating it, the charge remains a Class B misdemeanor, but you could face a minimum of six days in the county jail.
- If a sample of your breath or blood shows an alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more at the time of the test, the offense is enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor.
The punishment that could be imposed for a first offense DWI conviction depends on the specific facts of the case and which enhancements apply to your driving while intoxicated offense in Houston. Specifically:
- Class B misdemeanor offenses are punishable by fines up to $2,000 and/or confinement of up to 180 days in the county jail.
- Class A misdemeanor offenses are punishable by fines up to $4,000 and/or confinement of up to 365 days in the county jail.
Fines and Other Consequences of a DWI Conviction
Texas courts may also require any or all of the following for a person who is convicted of DWI:
- Additional fines of $3,000 for first-time convictions, $4,500 for first-time convictions with a breath or blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or greater, or $6,000 for second offenses
- Attendance at a Texas DWI Education Program, sometimes called DWI Offender Education
- Driver’s license suspension
- Requiring a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate (SR-22) from an insurance company
- A period of community supervision or probation (along with completing a class in alcohol education)
- Ignition interlock restriction, requiring a person to only operate a vehicle with a deep lung ignition interlock device, or breathalyzer on their motor vehicle
Penalties for Intoxication Assault
A charge of intoxication assault is a third-degree felony at its most basic level when the alleged offender is charged with causing serious bodily injury to another person. If the injured party ended up in a vegetative state or if they were a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel, the charge increases to a second-degree felony.
Penalties for Intoxication Manslaughter
Intoxication manslaughter is when the alleged party is charged with causing the death of another person while under the influence of alcohol and operating a vehicle. It is an automatic second-degree charge. The district attorney could add further charges if more than one person was killed or if the victim was a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel.
Enhanced Punishments for DWI Convictions in Texas
The possible punishments and penalties for a DWI do not stop there. Your previous DWI charges will also weigh into these considerations. For example, if you have a previous DWI conviction, your current charge will be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor, an offense that carries a minimum jail sentence of 30 days.
A third or subsequent DWI is a third-degree felony charge. Two to 10 years in prison, a potential license suspension of two years, and a $10,000 fine accompany a conviction.
How Houston Law Enforcement Proves Intoxication
Of course, the core element in a DWI is “intoxication”. Texas law enforcement believes they are specifically trained to identify intoxication using standardized field sobriety tests.
Law enforcement must use the clues observed during field sobriety and breathalyzer tests to establish the following:
- You fail to show a normal use of your physical faculties as a result of alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance in your system;
- You fail to show a normal use of your mental faculties as a result of alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance in your system; or
- A valid chemical test indicating a BAC of 0.08 or more.
The Attorneys at Blass Law Will Build a Defense Strategy for You
There are several defenses our team can use to fight to get your case dismissed or a not guilty verdict.
We could argue that the officer did not have probable cause to stop, detain or arrest you
Any time a Houston police officer has reasonable suspicion that someone is driving while intoxicated, they can stop that individual and conduct a field sobriety test. This means that they cannot pull you over based on a hunch, they must have specific articulable facts indicating you committed a traffic violation or other crime. This isn’t always because of alcohol, you could have dropped your phone and accidentally swerved to pick it up, making the officer think that you could have been driving drunk.
We could argue that this was not enough evidence to justify pulling you over.
The Breathalyzer did Not Give an Accurate Reading
If you were given a breath alcohol test and failed this could have been due to a breathalyzer malfunction. This could also have happened because the breathalyzer is a piece of junk. Either of these or even other factors out of your control could have led to an inaccurate reading.
The Officer Did Not Use the Breathalyzer Correctly
The officer who pulled you over could have failed to use the breathalyzer correctly as the Texas Breath Alcohol Testing Program Operator’s Manual dictates. We could argue that this mistake led to an incorrect or inaccurate breath alcohol content reading.
Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing for License Suspension
A Houston DWI lawyer can contest your license suspension or commercial driver’s license (CDL) disqualification. The procedure and requirements are strict and must be followed to the letter.
Your criminal defense lawyer in Houston, TX must send a request for an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days of your DWI arrest (20 days for a CDL disqualification). DPS will send a letter stating a hearing date, time, and location. Missing this deadline disqualifies you from challenging the license suspension with a Houston ALR hearing.
When you are granted an ALR hearing, it will occur in a separate location than your criminal case, usually at the State Office of Administrative Hearings, or in a municipal court or a justice of the peace court in your home county. At this hearing in Houston, Texas, your DWI attorney will present evidence that the hearing officer will consider in determining whether there is enough evidence to support a license suspension.
If the ALR Hearing Does Not Go Your Way
You can file a petition to appeal the ALR hearing decision if the hearing officer rules improperly on the evidence and grants a suspension of your license or CDL. Your DWI lawyer in Houston, TX will have to file the petition within 30 days of the date of your license suspension or CDL disqualification. This is filed in the county court.
A certified copy of the petition must be mailed to DPS via certified overnight mail to:
Texas Department of Public Safety
Director of Hearings – ALR Program
P.O. Box 16327
Austin, TX 78761-5327
Upon receiving this petition, DPS will lift your suspension or disqualification for 90 days. The disqualification will be re-implemented should it happen that the appellate court has not ruled on your petition within the 90-day time frame.
As you wait for a decision to be made, you can apply for an occupational license. This restricted license will allow you to drive your private motor vehicle to school, work, or for essential household activities. It does not permit you to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
How a DWI Conviction Affects a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
A person who makes their living driving stands to lose substantially more from a driving while intoxicated conviction than the typical driver. If you count on your CDL to pay the bills, you should know that a DWI conviction could result in the temporary disqualification of your CDL, or even your commercial learner’s permit (CLP).
It is worth noting that Texas DPS can disqualify your CDL for driving your own car—or any motor vehicle, for that matter—while intoxicated. The penalties do not just apply to driving a commercial motor vehicle while intoxicated.
DPS can and will disqualify your CDL for certain specified durations, depending upon a few factors.
If you refuse to have your BAC measured by blowing into a breathalyzer or a blood test, your CDL can be disqualified for one year. DPS will also disqualify your CDL for a year if you were in possession of a controlled substance while you are driving your vehicle in a public place.
The penalty of a one-year CDL disqualification also applies if your BAC equaled or was greater than the following:
- .04 or more (commercial vehicle)
- .08 or more (any vehicle)
If you were transporting hazardous material at the time you were stopped, and you refuse to have your BAC tested, or police believe you possessed a controlled substance in your commercial motor vehicle as you were driving it, Texas DPS can disqualify your CDL for three years.
This same penalty applies if you agree to a breathalyzer or blood test, and your BAC registers:
- .04 or more (while driving a commercial vehicle)
- .08 or more (while driving any vehicle)
Your CDL will be disqualified for life if you are convicted of a second DWI offense while operating a commercial motor vehicle.
A DWI Lawyer in Houston, TX Can Help Protect Your CDL
It is no small thing to mess around with your CDL when you make your living as a commercial vehicle driver. You should know that Texas judges are very skeptical about showing any leniency to a commercial vehicle driver who has been charged with DWI—understandably so, given the massive potential for destruction and death that result from accidents in these situations.
You will want to step into your legal battle armed with a defense that gives you the best possible outcome given the circumstances of your DWI. Blass Law will fight to give you this defense. Call us today at (832) 430-7728 for a review of your case and consultation regarding your legal options.
How a DWI Affects Your Ability to Drive for Uber Or Lyft
If your record shows you have a DWI conviction that is less than seven years old, you will not be able to drive for either Uber or Lyft. It does not matter that you have stayed DWI-free since the conviction. It does not matter that you have had your license reinstated or that you paid all your legal fines.
This is just another way in which a DWI conviction cuts your opportunities and options in life. However, if you count on driving for Lyft or Uber (or it is a job you wish to pursue) and you have a fresh DWI on your record, a DWI lawyer in Houston, TX may be able to work with the prosecutor to have your DWI charge reduced to a lesser charge – or dropped altogether.
We Can Try to Keep Your DWI Off Your Record
In some cases, your lawyer can fight to have your DWI conviction removed from your record. This option is now possible due to a 2017 law that permits non-disclosure of DWI convictions in certain types of cases.
If you want to drive for a rideshare company and are concerned about how your DWI may block this opportunity, call Blass Law. We will fight your case and give you the best shot at the life you look forward to living. Call for a DWI attorney in Houston, TX at (832) 430-7728.
Appealing a DWI Charge in Houston, Texas
According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, all criminal defendants have the right to appeal a court’s judgment against them. The law establishes that any appeal must be based on the argument that the court did not apply the law correctly or that the court permitted inappropriate behavior, either of which led to your eventual, wrongful conviction.
In the case of a DWI, the following types of errors are commonly cited as the basis for an appeal of the court’s decision:
- The prosecutor conducted himself or herself improperly.
- The court permitted testimony or evidence that should have been excluded.
- The court ruling was made in error.
A DWI lawyer in Houston, TX can present evidence supporting that one of the above errors occurred in your case, rendering a significant impact on its outcome. If the Court of Appeals agrees with the stated facts, it may decide to reverse the trial court and grant you a new trial for your DWI. Should you lose the case on appeal, you still have recourse. Your DWI attorney can file a petition for discretionary review with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
We Will do Everything we Can to Help You Fight a Conviction in Your Case
Your pending DWI charge has already put you under enough stress. Imagine the relief of handing this potentially life-altering matter over to someone who understands Texas’ complex DWI laws and will fight aggressively to put them to work for your benefit, your economic welfare, and your freedom.
Blass Law will stand by your side through this difficult time, handling your case with a deep knowledge of standardized field sobriety testing protocols, law enforcement procedures, and prosecutorial tactics. Tell us about your charge, and we will make certain you understand your legal options.
We know the tremendous difference a conviction can make in your life, your freedom, your career, and your family. Let us help you stay on the right path.
Why Hire a Blass Law DWI Lawyer?
Our team values our clients. We want you to have the best possible representation in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, or Galveston County.
Our practice areas include cases like DWI and the following:
- Possession of a controlled substance
- Unlawful carrying of a weapon
- Expunction of a criminal record
- Flying or boating while intoxicated
- Drug crimes
- Probation violations
Call the DWI Attorneys at Blass Law Today for a Case Review
We could still represent you even if you do not see your case type on the above list. Reach out and call Blass Law today at (832) 430-7728 to learn about what our team of legal professionals can do for you and your family.
You do not need to be scared about what your future holds. We cannot get to work on your case until we hear from you. Call us now, as time is of the essence.