Board Certified Houston DWI Attorney Specialist
Enjoying alcoholic beverages is one of life's great pleasures. Drinking alcohol traces back through the Bible, and throughout our rich American history. On December 5, 1933, Americans were granted the “constitutional right to drink” when prohibition was repealed by the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Drinking responsibly with friends, family and colleagues is to be expected, and thoroughly enjoyed. As with any right, the right to drink alcohol comes with responsibility. But even if a person drinks responsibly, a sober person can easily be wrongly arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas. A DWI arrest can be the start of a long nightmare with devastating personal and professional consequences.
Law enforcement have increased DWI enforcement patrols with DWI task forces in Houston, Harris County, Texas to keep roadways safe. Knowing the rules of the road can help you avoid being wrongfully arrested for DWI. DWI is a serious crime, and penalties range from a misdemeanor to a felony and result in hefty fines, suspended licenses, license renewal surcharges, ignition interlock devices placed in your vehicle, and even jail time.
Knowing what it means to “drive while intoxicated” is important. In Texas, intoxication is legally defined as “not having the normal use of your mental or physical faculties” due to alcohol or medication, or having a breath or blood alcohol concentration above 0.08%. All drivers need to know that driving after drinking responsibly is not illegal, but many innocent – and sober – drivers get caught up in the net of increased Houston DWI enforcement. A DWI arrest is based solely on the subjective opinion of the arresting officer. Just because someone is arrested for DWI does not mean someone was intoxicated, or even guilty of DWI.
If I am stopped, what should I do?
First, always be polite. Officers have a difficult job, and making their job more difficult will not end well for you. Secondly, you are most likely on camera, and your demeanor is in the spot light. Everything you say and do will be scrutinized, and used against you. Police officers utilize field sobriety exercises to make their arrest decisions. Many sober driver fail these exercises despite not being impaired. Officers are trained to score "cues" or “clues” as caused by intoxication, even though these clues are often the result of nervousness, physical injuries, age, weight, or bad balance. The three standardized sobriety exercises officers use are: (1) horizontal gaze nystagmus eye exam (looking for involuntary jerking in your eyes); (2) one leg stand (standing on one leg for 30 seconds with your arms by your side); and (3) walk and turn (walking 9 steps heel to toe like walking on a tight rope, turning, and walking back nine steps heel to toe). Listening to the officer's instructions is paramount. Officers are grading your ability to mentally and physically follow their instructions.
Should I take a breath or blood test?
Many Texas counties now utilize blood search warrants due to “no refusal” initiatives. Breath and blood testing have inherent reliability issues. The old sage advice was to refuse a breath test, however, this is no longer always the best advice as many jurisdictions utilize search warrants in the event of a breath or blood test refusal. Knowing where and when a search warrant will be used will most likely not be information you have at your disposal when making the decision to take a breath test. In the event you are arrested in one of those jurisdictions, you may want to consider taking a breath test despite its inherent flaws in order to avoid being stuck with a needle by a police department employee in an unsanitary location. Voluntarily taking a breath or blood test also demonstrates to a jury that you knew you were not intoxicated and had nothing to hide. The other side of the coin is to refuse a breath test, and make the government obtain a warrant to take your blood. Blood testing involves many people, and thus is prone to many human errors in the blood testing chain of custody. Both breath and blood testing are both prone to many mistakes that falsely inflate the blood alcohol estimate. Doug Murphy is a proven board certified DWI lawyer that has not only won breath and blood test cases, he has also taught other lawyers how to do the same.
Law enforcement plays an important role in protecting the public from intoxicated drivers. But when a person is wrongfully caught in the net of increased DWI enforcement, a skilled and experienced board certified DWI lawyer can be the difference in preventing a little cheer from putting a dent in your career.
A Texas DWI conviction can wreak havoc on your career, your finances, and jeopardize your freedom. We understand the immense fear and uncertainty that may accompany a DWI charge. The criminal justice system is complex and can be overwhelming so don't go through the process alone. The guidance of an experienced, and knowledgeable of one of the best DWI attorneys in Texas is crucial in securing the best outcome for your case.
When your rights and liberties are at stake, you will need legal representation from a board certified DWI attorney who knows how to fight for those rights with titan force.
DWI In Texas
The scene is all too familiar - a relaxed gathering of friends and a few rounds of beers or an after-work cocktail. What begins as innocent and recreational can become detrimental to your livelihood in a flash if you see those red and blue lights in your rearview mirror. From that moment, you will undoubtedly want the situation put behind you as quickly as possible. We are focused on aiding your efforts to help you do just that.
It is important to remember that being arrested does not mean that a conviction is a certainty as there are numerous defenses that can be raised in DWI cases. What defenses are relevant and applicable depends on the facts and circumstances of a particular case. These charges can be fought, and so can the penalties attached to them. You need to hire a Texas DWI specialist who is renowned as one of the best and top Houston DWI attorneys as soon as you are able; we will review the specifics of your case and determine the best avenue to take for your defense.
With a population in the neighborhood of 30 million, Texas ranks at the top in DWI arrests - some years Houston ranked the highest in the nation. Houston has the highest rate of drunk driving fatalities in the state. Houston law enforcement execute their duties with particular stringency trying diligently to enforce DWI law to combat this fact. However, it's critical to remember that not all DWI's arrest mean the person was legally intoxicated. Every detail of your case, every aspect of the officer's conduct, the issues of implied consent, breath and/or blood samples, and probable cause are all based on an officer's--or a lab analyst's--subjective opinion.
Although the Texas Department of Transportation states that “impairment begins with your first drink,” this statement is not supported by science as the effects of alcohol vary depending on age, body weight, and amount of food eaten before and/or after. In Texas, and all other states, an individual is considered legally per se intoxicated when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or above. Regardless of blood alcohol concentration, however, the state can allege you are intoxicated if you are impaired by prescription drugs (think Tiger Woods) or over the counter medication if the officer believes medication caused you to lose the normal use of your mental or physical faculties. There are many ways to successfully defeat a breath or blood test.
DWI and your Driver's License
When a peace officer arrests someone for DWI, they are required to request either a breath or blood sample from the arrestee. When you obtain your driver's license you impliedly consented to provide either breath or blood if requested. A peace officer is required to provide a statutory warning of the consequences of refusing or having a blood alcohol concentration above the 0.08 legal limit.
If you refuse or fail a breath or blood test, you have 15 days from the date of arrest to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing to contest the suspension of your driver's license. Doug Murphy has conducted well over a 1000 ALR hearings, and saved thousands of driver's licenses for hard working Texans.
DWI Charges: Maximum Penalties
A DWI conviction can carry a number penalties. With each subsequent offense, the penalties become a degree harsher. First and second offenses are misdemeanors, while a third offense with 2 prior DWI convictions is a felony.
- DWI-1st: Maximum penalties for a class B misdemeanor are a $2,000 fine; 180 days in jail; and a 1-year driver's license suspension. If your breath or blood sample is 0.15% or above, the maximum penalties for a class A misdemeanor are a $4,000 fine; 1 year in county jail. Conviction of a class B or A misdemeanor DWI causes license renewal surcharge from DPS for 3 years at an annual fee of $1,000 - $2,000 depending upon facts of case.
- DWI-2nd: Maximum penalties for a class A misdemeanor are a $4,000 fine; 1 year in county jail; and a loss of driver's license for 2 years. Conviction causes license renewal surcharge from DPS for 3 years at an annual fee of $1,000 - $2,000 depending upon facts of case.
- DWI-3rd: Maximum penalties for a 3rd Degree Felony are a $10,000 fine; 10 years in Prison; and a loss of driver's license for 2 years. Conviction causes license renewal surcharge from DPS for 3 years at an annual fee of $2,000.
- DWI-4th: This assumes you have at least 1 felony DWI conviction. Maximum penalties are a $20,000 fine; 10 years in Prison; and a loss of driver's license for 2 years. Conviction causes license renewal surcharge from DPS for 3 years at an annual fee of $2,000.
It is important to keep in mind that the maximum penalties listed above are the worst case scenario. The actual penalty that you may face--if convicted--will depend on the facts of your case, and how well your lawyer mitigates those facts. An experienced Houston DWI Attorney can beat a DWI conviction, or lessen the punishment.
License Suspension: How To Fight It
You have the right to challenge an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) suspension by requesting an ALR hearing within 15 days after your arrest to prevent the suspension of your driver's license. The sooner you hire an experienced, and specialized Houston DWI attorney, the better you end up.
If you do not request an ALR hearing, a refusal or failure of a breath or blood test will result in an automatic ALR suspension, starting the 41st day after the date of your DWI arrest. On a DWI-1st with no prior drug or alcohol enforcement contacts, a refusal suspension is for 180 days, where as a failure suspension is for 90 days. On a DWI-2nd with prior drug or alcohol enforcement contacts, a refusal suspension is for 2 years, where as a failure suspension is for 1 year.
The ALR suspension is not only important to prevent the suspension of your driver's license, but it also is an important tool for a board certified DWI lawyer to properly investigate and learn more about your case at the ALR hearing.
Seek Legal Representation Right Away
The incredible stress associated with a DWI charge can be mitigated if you have a solid plan of action. Hire an experienced Houston DWI attorney. Doug Murphy is recognized as a leading DWI attorney in Houston and the United States. He was named the Lawyer of the year in 2021 and 2023 for advocacy in DWI Defense in Houston by U.S. News & World Report. He is passionate in the defense of those accused of DWI, and has been successful in obtaining exceptional results that other lawyers can't. Contact his office today by calling 713-229-8333 or contact us online.