If you're facing a DWI charge in Houston plus additional charges, it can be hard to know where to turn. You may be frightened about the possible consequences of a DWI but also any additional charges you're facing. Please remember that just because the police charged you with DWI and other offenses doesn't mean you are guilty. A skilled DWI and criminal defense attorney can walk you through the process, evaluate your case, and develop the best possible defense for you. We'll discuss some of the most common charges that you might face with a DWI on this page.
DWI Plus Drug Possession
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas can involve intoxication from either alcohol or drugs. Under Texas law, a driver is impaired if they can't control their “mental or physical faculties,” normally due to a drug, controlled substance, alcohol, or a combination of both. If the police arrest you for DWI and find drugs on your person or in your car, you could also face a separate drug charge.
The consequences of a drug charge can vary depending on the type of drug, its penalty group, and how much you had. Texas has some of the strictest laws and penalties for drug possession in the country. That's why it's important to hire an experienced criminal defense and DWI attorney as soon as possible. Penalties for drug possession can range from no jail time for simple marijuana possession up to 20 years in prison for penalty group-one drugs like cocaine, heroin, ketamine, and meth.
If you're facing a drug possession charge in addition to a DWI, try not to panic. There are defenses to this charge, including:
- You didn't know you had the drug in your car.
- You have a valid prescription.
- The police collected evidence in violation of your constitutional rights.
There are also some very narrow exemptions from drug possession charges unique to Texas, including:
- Peyote used in Native American worship ceremonies,
- Denatured sodium pentobarbital used by animal control or humane societies,
- Some cannabinoids and drug paraphernalia used for therapeutic research, for example, medical marijuana, and
- Anabolic steroids used for livestock.
An experienced Houston criminal defense attorney can evaluate your DWI and drug possession case and discuss your legal options with you.
DWI Plus Driving on a Suspended License
You could end up with a suspended license and perhaps not even realize it if you missed something in your mail. You can have your Texas license suspended:
- Automatic Suspension: Texas may automatically suspend your license if a court convicts you of a criminally negligent homicide involving a vehicle, fleeing police, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries or death, or a DWI.
- Habitual Suspension: If a court convicts you of four or more moving violations in one year or seven or more in two years, the state can suspend your license.
- Serious Accident Suspension: If you are responsible for a crash that results in serious injuries or death to another person, the state may suspend your license.
If the police arrest you for a DWI and your license is currently suspended, they may also charge you with driving on a suspended license. This crime is a misdemeanor in Texas and typically doesn't involve jail time for a first offense. However, this charge could increase the fines you might face for a DWI conviction and result in a longer license suspension.
DWI Plus Intoxication Assault
If the police charge you with DWI and you were also involved in an accident that resulted in serious injuries, you may also face an intoxication assault charge. Intoxication assault is a separate charge from a DWI. It does involve some of the same elements as a DWI, including:
- Operating a motor vehicle,
- While intoxicated,
- In a public place.
For a conviction for intoxication assault, the prosecutor must also prove that you caused serious bodily injury to another person by accident or mistake. Intoxication assault is a strict liability case, so there's no need for the state to prove that you had the intent to kill or injure anyone.
Under Texas law, “serious bodily injury” means an injury that “creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” This injury can happen in either a single car or a multiple car accident. Intoxication assault can also involve injuring a pedestrian or a bicycle rider.
While the elements of intoxication assault are similar to a DWI, it is a third-degree felony charge with more serious potential consequences. If found guilty, the penalty can be two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
There are three main defenses to an intoxication assault charge:
- You unknowingly took drugs that caused your impairment. If, for instance, you started a new prescription medication or someone spiked your drink.
- You didn't cause the accident, even if you were impaired.
- You weren't impaired and didn't cause the accident.
A skilled DWI attorney will have the skills to evaluate your case, determine if one of these defenses is applicable, and argue the case in court.
DWI Plus Intoxication Manslaughter
If the police arrest you for DWI after an accident that resulted in someone's death, you may also face intoxication manslaughter charges. The elements of intoxication manslaughter that the state must prove are similar to those of a DWI or an intoxication assault, but the charge involves causing the death of another by accident or mistake. Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony, with penalties of two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Challenges to an intoxication manslaughter charge that your attorney may use in court include:
- Constitutional Challenges: Your attorney will review video and other evidence to determine whether the police violated your constitutional rights.
- BAC Testing Challenges: If the police administer blood alcohol content tests improperly, the results are not reliable and not admissible in court.
- Challenging the Field Sobriety Tests: The results of field sobriety tests are highly subjective. These tests also aren't admissible unless administered properly.
- Challenging Causation: While an intoxication manslaughter conviction doesn't require that the state prove your intent to kill someone, it does require that the prosecutor prove that you caused the accident.
An experienced DWI attorney can develop the best defense strategy for an intoxication manslaughter charge based on a thorough legal and factual evaluation of your case.
Hire an Experienced and Board Certified DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney
When you're facing a DWI along with additional charges, the most important thing to remember is that you are innocent until proven guilty. Just because the police charged you with DWI or another crime does not mean a court will find you guilty. An experienced Houston DWI attorney can help. DWI cases and the charges that accompany them can be technically and legally complicated. You need an attorney with extensive legal education in both DWI defense and technical education in the science and mechanics behind BAC tests and how they work. If you're facing additional charges with your DWI, you also need a skilled criminal defense attorney with a deep bench of litigation experience and defense work.
Attorney Doug Murphy is one of only two attorneys in the entire state of Texas who is Board Certified in both DWI Defense by the National College of DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and Criminal Defense Law accredited by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Doug also served as dean of the National College for DUI Defense conducted at Harvard Law School. These certifications let you know that he has the experience and technical know-how to handle any DWI case, no matter how complicated.
U.S. News and World Report also recently named Doug one of the Best Lawyers in America for DWI defense in Houston for 2021. The Houston Press also named him the “Drinking Driver's Best Friend.” Contact Doug today online or at 713-229-8333.