Driving While Intoxicated: it's not as simple as it sounds. If you have been charged with DWI, whether it is your first or second time, or whether it is accompanied by circumstances that could enhance the penalties, like a DWI with a child, then you are probably full of questions. This guide is here to help you navigate and uncover answers to all of those questions.
At Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C., we want our clients to be well-informed. Knowing fact from fiction helps relieve some fears about fighting your DWI, even adds a cautious amount of confidence that you can fight it and indeed should fight your DWI charge(s). Doug Murphy is committed to a complete, aggressive defense. Contact his office today so that he can begin reviewing your case and outlining your options. In the meantime, read through these questions and answers to better inform yourself.
What are Texas' DWI offenses?
If an officer pulls you over for a traffic stop or arrives on the scene of an accident and detects you may be drinking and driving, there are a number of offenses that could be charged against that person depending on the facts and circumstances. These DWI and DWI-related offenses include:
- Driving with an open container
- Driving while intoxicated with alcohol, a first-, second-, or third-time offense
- Driving while intoxicated under the influence of marijuana
- Driving while intoxicated under the influence of prescription drugs
- Driving while intoxicated and a minor
- Driving while intoxicated with a commercial driver's license (CDL)
- Driving while intoxicated with a child
- Intoxication assault, which is when an allegedly drunk driver causes an accident and injures another person
- Intoxication manslaughter, which is when an allegedly drunk driver causes an accident and kills another person
- Flying while intoxicated
- Boating while intoxicated
- Operating an amusement ride while intoxicated.
What kinds of penalties can you expect from a DWI in Texas?
Just as there are a number of DWI and DWI-related offenses, there are also a number of penalties you can expect that correspond with those offenses. Generally speaking, in Harris County, you can expect any of the below penalties if you are convicted of a DWI offense:
- License suspension
- Scram bracelets or other methods to restrict driving privileges
- Jail time
- Fines and fees, and
- Enhanced penalties if the “victim” of an accident purportedly caused by drinking and driving falls under certain criteria.
But the penalties do not end there. If you are convicted, you end up with a criminal record. In only a few cases, primarily your first DWI conviction, can a person have the arrest and criminal records expunged or sealed. Without the latter, you are left with what's known as collateral consequences, and these consequences can impact your life well after you have paid your so-called debt to society by completing your sentence successfully.
What is the criminal process of a DWI in Harris County?
You may not know this, but if you are charged with a DWI in Texas, you actually have two things to consider: (1) your driver's license suspension; and (2) your criminal charges.
Once you are arrested for DWI, your driving privileges are suspended and you are provided a temporary license, which is actually a Notice of Suspension. You have 15 days to appeal the license suspension and request an Administrative License Revocation hearing. This process is through the Texas Department of Public Safety. It is important to contact Doug Murphy prior to this administrative process because he can (1) provide ALR defense to safeguard your driving privileges, and (2) begin obtaining evidence and information to be used in your criminal defense.
The criminal procedure includes everything and anything from the moment you are arrested to the moment the charges are dropped or you are either convicted or acquitted. The process can be daunting and complex. Many of you may want to just plead guilty or take a plea deal for two basic reasons: (1) you think the evidence is indisputable and you will be convicted anyway; and (2) the process is too long and will interfere with your day-to-day living. Both of these assumptions are far from accurate.
First, Doug Murphy is here to advise you that DWI cases, no matter how complex they are, are indeed defensible. See below for a better understanding of what these defenses entail.
Second, Doug Murphy is here to tell you that if you do not fight your DWI because of the impact the process can have on your daily living, then you don't want to know what that impact will be if you fail to fight the charge and plead guilty. You end up with a criminal record that can follow you through life and affect anything from work to family to your constitutional rights.
What defenses can you use against a Texas DWI?
DWI is a specialized area of criminal law and specialized knowledge of it is required for any good defense. Doug Murphy has skill and insight obtained from nearly two decades of experience with a wide range of cases and trials. Here are a few of the defenses that can be incorporated into your defense strategy -- if applicable:
- Constitutional violations. Doug Murphy will analyze your case, the video, the police reports, etc., to determine if any violation occurred, like failure to have reasonable suspicion to initially pull you over and improper search and seizure of your person or property.
- Field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are primarily subjective and are based on little science. Plus, there can be any number of causes that can produce negative results, from environmental conditions to the mental or physical health of the person.
- Breath tests. So many people think a breath test is damning evidence. But these tests and their results can and are regularly challenged. From the maintenance of the machines to the administration of the tests to the handling of the results, these tests prove faulty quite often. In addition, there are other reasons your results can indicate intoxication, and these reasons include anything from your diet to specific health conditions.
- Blood tests. So many people also think a blood test is damning evidence, but the same proves true here: they can be faulty for a number of reasons. That said, blood tests are more scientific and more difficult to challenge but all the same, they can be challenged. The chain of custody tends to be a particular problem with blood tests, but the testing itself has its issues.
- DRE reports. There are a lot of problems associated with drug recognition experts and what they say they can determine via the DRE steps. These reports and results can also be challenged.
- Motions to the court. Moving the court to take specific action is a strategy Doug Murphy will utilize when it is available. Most importantly, he will move the court to suppress evidence or exclude witness testimony, and in many cases when these motions are granted, the charges are dismissed. For example, if there is a constitutional violation like an improper warrant to take a blood sample, Doug Murphy will file a motion based on this violation to request the court to suppress the blood results. When that happens, the State loses its most important piece of evidence and if it cannot in all likelihood prove the case, the State will be forced to dismiss the charges.
What are some of the most common questions people have after charged with a DWI or DWI-related offense in Texas?
Of course, not all of the above information will answer all the many specific questions you have about the unique circumstances of your case. Here are some questions that relate to particular DWI situations. Click on the links to find the corresponding answers to and discussions about those questions.
- This is my first DWI offense with a blood test. What does that mean?
- This is my first DWI offense with a breath test. What does that mean?
- This is my first DWI offense with an accident. What does that mean?
- This is my second DWI offense with a blood test. What does that mean?
- This is my second DWI offense with a breath test. What does that mean?
- This is my second DWI offense with an accident. What does that mean?
- This is my third DWI offense with a blood test. What does that mean?
- This is my third DWI offense with a breath test. What does that mean?
- Can I sleep the alcohol off in my vehicle?
- What are specific defense strategies for DWI if I blew below the legal limit or if I blew in excess of 0.15?
- Can I be asked to take a breathalyzer on my boat in Texas?
- What if I was charged for a DWI but the case has not yet been filed?
- What happens if I am arrested for DWI in Texas while I have another DWI case pending?
- What happens to my License to Carry and my guns if I'm arrested for a DWI?
- Can I still be charged in Texas with a DWI if I blow below the legal limit?
- What are all the costs of my DWI arrest and possible conviction?
- Can I win my DWI case in Houston?
- Is my Texas driver's license suspended at the same time as my DWI arrest?
- What happens to your security clearance in Houston when you are arrested for DWI?
- When can I get my DWI arrest expunged in Harris County?
- What could cause poor performance of a field sobriety test during a Texas DWI stop?
- What could cause an inaccurate breathalyzer reading?
- I'm from out of state and was arrested for DWI in Texas. What does this mean?
- My friend/spouse/relative was arrested for DWI: What do I do?
- What happens if arrested for DWI on federal property?
- What does it take to win a DWI case?
- I Was Arrested for DWI in Houston. Now What?
- What happens if I refuse to provide a breath sample?
- What to do if Pulled Over After Suspicion of Drinking and Driving in Houston?
- How to Prepare for Your Harris County DWI Trial?
- What are the pros and cons of fighting your DWI in Harris County?
- No One Saw Me Driving. Does this Help My DWI Case in Harris County?
- What is the DWI Grand Jury Process in Harris County TX?
Who is the best DWI attorney in Harris County, TX for my case?
The “best” DWI attorney is in some ways subjective because it all depends on what you mean by and expect of the “best.” But there are other ways, too, to help determine the best DWI attorney, and that's by considering experience, knowledge, client reviews, peer reviews, case outcomes, accolades, specialization, and demonstrated commitment. Doug Murphy possesses each of these things.
Contact Doug Murphy today either online or at (713) 229-8333 to have Doug Murphy answer more of your specific questions about your unique DWI case. His office is based in Houston TX, but he represents clients in the entire region, including Harris County and other surrounding area counties.