If you're facing DWI charges, it can be stressful and frightening. But if you're also facing additional charges for illegally carrying a firearm, the consequences can be even more serious. That's what a Lorena woman recently discovered. Police arrested the woman for DWI and, while in the back seat of the police car, allegedly stashed a handgun she had on her after divesting herself of the handcuffs and waist chain she was wearing during the ride to prison.
Judge Susan Kelly of Waco's 54th State District Court recently sentenced the 55-year-old woman to eight years in prison for two counts of felony DWI and one count of tampering with evidence. As part of a plea deal, the prosecutor dismissed a charge for burglary of a habitation, alleging she broke into a friend's home after he died in March of 2022.
DWI Charges in Texas
While the consequences of a DWI conviction alone can be serious, the penalties can be even more severe if you're also arrested for gun charges simultaneously. A first DWI in Texas is typically a Class B misdemeanor. A conviction is punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a $3,000 fine, suspension of your driver's license, and additional mandatory administrative fines of $3,000. You could face additional jail time and heftier fines if there are aggravating circumstances.
Firearms Charges in Texas
The Lorena woman discussed above got lucky. She only faced charges for tampering with evidence for hiding a weapon in a police car; she could have faced more serious charges. While carrying a weapon openly or concealed is typically legal if you have the proper license to carry it in Texas, legal gun possession can become illegal if you commit a crime at the same time. That means you could face additional charges if you're arrested for a DWI and carrying a firearm. You can face a Class A misdemeanor charge, in addition to the underlying DWI charge, if you carry a firearm and drive while intoxicated. However, depending on the circumstances, you could face a third-degree felony charge for unlawful firearm possession. See Tex. Crim. Code § 46.04 (2021).
Under Texas law, you could also face charges for unlawfully carrying a firearm.
A license holder commits an offense if, while intoxicated, the license holder carries a handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, regardless of whether the handgun is concealed or carried in a shoulder or belt holster.
Tex. Pen. Code § 46.035(d) (2021).
You Need an Expert in Texas DWI and Criminal Defense
If you're facing DWI charges, with or without firearms charges, you need the help of an expert to ensure you get the best possible defense. Attorney Doug Murphy is a Board Certified expert in both DWI and Criminal Defense law. In fact, he is one of only two attorneys in Texas who is a Board Certified expert in both these specialties.
U.S. News and World Report's Best Lawyers in America also recently named Doug a “Lawyer of the Year” for Houston DWI Defense in 2023. Find out what Doug and the Doug Murphy Law Firm team can do for you. Call them at 713-229-8333 or contact them online to schedule your consultation today.