Texas Board Certification: DWI Defense Law

Have you been arrested for DWI in the Houston area? If so, there are a few critical things to look for when selecting a Houston DWI defense attorney. One of the most important criteria is whether or not the attorney is a Board Certified expert in DWI defense law. Most attorneys will refer to themselves as the best DWI defense attorney around, but an attorney must receive board certification to hold themselves out as an expert in a particular area of law.

The process of obtaining board certification is difficult and requires both skill and experience. This process means an attorney holding these certifications has proven their expertise in DWI defense law. To discuss your case with a Board Certified expert in DWI defense law, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today. 

The Process of being Certified as an Expert in DWI Defense Law in Texas

Board certification in the field of DWI defense is administered by the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD). The NCDD is a nonprofit, professional corporation dedicated to strengthening the DUI defense bar nationally. It is the only organization accredited by the American Bar Association to provide certification in the field of DWI defense that is also recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. ABA accreditation is accepted in 20 states, including Texas.

This makes accreditation from the NCDD an important factor to consider when hiring a DWI defense attorney. To be board certified, a candidate must complete a lengthy application process examining your experience on DWI cases and results before you are approved to sit for a written and then prepare a brief and argue the case before a three-judge panel. It is recognized as one of the most rigorous board certification exams due to its historically low passage rate. Upon successful completion of both steps, the NCDD will confer board certification upon the attorney-candidate.

The Application Process for DWI Board Certification

Applications are accepted by the NCDD all year. However, the examination is only given one per year each winter. All applications received by the final day of August will be able to take the examination that winter. Applicants that submit their paperwork after this date will be required to take the examination the following winter.

The application process begins with a written application. This nine-page application requires all relevant background information related to the candidate's practice of law. Along with the application, the candidate must all meet three requirements to qualify:

  1. The candidate must have substantial involvement in the practice of DWI defense law.
  2. The candidate must have references from fellow DUI defense attorneys and judges.
  3. The candidate must have met college-approved education requirements.

Substantial Involvement

Board certification as a DWI defense attorney isn't available to everyone that practices law. This accreditation is designed for attorneys who are substantially involved in the practice of DWI / DUI defense law. For this reason, an attorney must devote at least 50% of his or her law practice to the application of DWI defense law.

In addition, a candidate must have a minimum amount of legal experience to qualify. Within the previous three years of making an application to the NCDD, a candidate must:

  • Have been lead defense counsel in at least 15 DWI trials to verdict; and
  • Have been lead counsel for at least 40 contested matters involving the taking of evidence other than trials.


To be considered, a candidate must include a list of references from attorneys and judges with the application. The references must include three judges and three practicing attorneys. The references must have personal knowledge of the candidate's competency in DWI defense and must have witnessed the candidate try a DWI case within the last three years. To obtain the necessary references, the candidate must provide the NCDD with a list of between eight and twelve judges that qualify as potential references. It will be up to the NCDD to contact these references and confirm a candidate is competent in DWI defense.

Educational Experience

Finally, a candidate must complete a minimum number of hours of college-approved DWI defense education courses before filing. The candidate must have completed at least 36 hours of classes relating to DWI defense law. These courses must have been completed within the three years prior to the filing of the application.

The Examination Process for DWI Board Certification

According to the NCDD, the written exam will:

cover the issues and the complexity of DWI defense, including a demonstration of knowledge in substantive, procedural and scientific areas, as well as evidentiary issues, which impact and affect the defense of a person accused of DWI.

The examination includes both a written and oral component. The written portion of the test covers every area of DWI defense from evidentiary issues to the science behind chemical tests. The oral exam typically lasts 10-15 minutes and can take the form of a mock trial or appellate court argument.

What it means to be a Board Certified Expert in Texas

Board certification is the official recognition from the American Bar Association that an attorney is considered an expert in DWI defense law. While there are plenty of accolades for lawyers that can be easily acquired or even purchased, a Board Certified expert has been vetted through a thorough and transparent process. That's what makes board certification carry more weight than any other legal accolade.

Board Certified Experts are Uncommon in Texas

Only a handful of the attorneys practicing law in the State of Texas have met the qualifications for certification as an expert in DWI defense law. As of November 2018, there are fewer than 130 practicing attorneys in the State of Texas to have been Board Certified by the National College of DUI Defense. Certification is extremely rare when you consider that as of 2016 there were 98,000 licensed attorneys in the State of Texas. These numbers show only the leading experts in DWI defense law will be considered by the NCDD.

Discuss your Case with one of Houston's Most Qualified DWI Defense Law Experts

Attorney Doug Murphy is one of the Houston's best DWI defense attorneys. An experienced trial lawyer, Doug Murphy is one of only two attorneys in the State of Texas to be certified as an expert in both DWI defense law and criminal defense law. These certifications show that Doug Murphy has the experience and dedication to defend the rights of those accused of driving while intoxicated. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. for your free consultation.

Contact Us Today

If you are facing DWI or other criminal charges in Texas, contact our office today to discuss your case, so we can begin working on your defense. Please provide only your personal email and cell phone number so that we can immediately and confidentially communicate with you.

Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C.
902 Heights Blvd.
Houston, TX 77008
713-583-0205 (fax)