Thanks to the Constitution of the State of Texas, you are entitled to bail following an arrest under state law. Like with many rights, your ability to obtain release from jail after paying a bail amount has certain limitations. While rare and uncommon, it is possible for the courts to deny bail to a person facing a charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI).
The good news is that the issue of bail is not decided with any finality. Even in cases where bail is initially denied, it is always possible to re-address bail with another judge. One of the valuable benefits an experienced and Board Certified Houston DWI defense attorney could offer is an understanding of common bail practices and experience with having bail requirements reduced.
While the denial of bail is unlikely in a DWI case, understanding the circumstances where it could happen could be valuable if you are facing such a charge.
The Right to Bail in Texas
Article 1, Section 11 of the Texas Constitution outlines the right to bail. While the Constitution provides that “All prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties,” it also outlines exceptions to this general rule. Section 11 makes clear there is an exception for any capital offense where the state can show a likelihood of conviction. Section 11a also highlights other exceptions that focus on felons with extensive criminal histories, sexual offenders, and acts of violence among other things.
Circumstances Where Bail Could be Denied in a Texas DWI Case
It is highly unlikely that the court would deny bail on a misdemeanor DWI case. Most of the exceptions to the bail requirement relate to felony charges in one shape or another, have allegations of death involved or severe bodily injury due to an accident, or where severe criminal history suggests the person might be a danger to society. It is important to remember that judges merely have the option to deny bail in these situations. In most felony DWI cases, the courts will agree to set a bail amount. Courts are more likely to initially deny bail in cases where serious or fatal injuries resulted from the drunken driving offense, but in most instances, bail can be obtained for those accused in these tragic scenarios.
Individuals Facing a Felony with Two Prior Convictions
One of the most common factors that could lead to the denial of bail in a Texas DWI case involves a defendant's prior criminal history. The court has the power to deny bail to anyone facing a felony DWI arrest if they have two prior felony convictions. These felonies do not have to be DWI related to qualify. In Texas, this means the person is considered a "habitual felony offender" where the minimum sentence if convicted is 25 years in prison.
Individuals Facing a Felony While Out on Bail in Houston
Another situation where the court could deny bail in a DWI case also involves a prior felony arrest. Specifically, the court may deny bail for any individual facing a felony DWI charge if they are currently out on bail for another felony charge.
The Importance of Experienced Legal Counsel in Houston TX
The courts are granted substantial leeway in decisions regarding bail in a DWI case. Because of this, it is one area where the experience of your legal counsel could be invaluable. The right Board Certified Houston DWI defense attorney could advise you of your chances of bail and advocate on your behalf that a denial of bail would be unreasonable in your case.