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University of Houston Student DWI Defense Lawyer

Defending University of Houston Students Against DWI Charges

Houston comes alive at night. It's a great place to have fun in the evening, but police often patrol areas near universities watching for drivers who may be intoxicated. If the police arrest you or your college-aged child for suspected DWI near the University of Houston, it's important to know the possible consequences and what you should do next. DWI is a serious criminal charge, but it is possible to mount a defense with effective legal representation.

What Is a DWI?

First, it's important to know what constitutes driving while intoxicated (DWI). In Texas, police can arrest you for DWI if:

  • You are impaired, meaning "not having the normal use of your mental or physical faculties" because of the use of alcohol or drugs; or
  • Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or more on a blood or breath test.

Under Texas law, you are legally intoxicated if your BAC is .08% or higher. But it's important to remember that blood and breathalyzer tests are not infallible.

Penalties for DWI include fines, jail time, and license suspensions:


Jail/Prison Time


License Suspension

1st DWI

Jail for 72 hours to 180 days

Up to $2,000

90 days to one year

2nd DWI

Jail for 30 days to one year

Up to $4,000

180 days to one year

3rd or more DWI

Prison for two to 20 years

Up to $10,000

180 days to one year

The state also imposes mandatory financial penalties for DWI on top of court-ordered fines:

  • $3,000 for the first DWI in 36 months;
  • $4,500 for any subsequent DWI in 36 months; and
  • $6,000 for a BAC of .15% or higher.

Aggravating circumstances can increase the severity of the charge and the penalties, including:

Where Can You Get Arrested Near the University of Houston?

Next, it's important to know where you might be arrested for suspected DWI near U of H, whether you are a student or a local Houstonian. Students at the University of Houston have active social lives. Gatherings at Calhoun's or The Den, or bars in Midtown just a short distance away, are often gathering places for U of H students. Fraternity or sorority parties at Bayou Oaks are also a common occurrence. As a result, local police are often on high alert watching for people drinking and driving, particularly in the evenings.

If you like sports, the Cougars have a strong tailgating tradition. But be sure to be careful when leaving games, because local police will be looking for fans who've had too many beers before driving home on game day.

How Can a DWI Conviction Affect You?

Finally, it's important to understand that the consequences of a DWI conviction can go beyond the fines, jail time, and license suspensions imposed by state law. You may also face professional repercussions, student disciplinary proceedings, and other life-altering consequences. To understand all the possible implications of a DWI conviction, you should consult an experienced DWI defense attorney as soon as possible.

College Students Can Face On-Campus Repercussions

If you are a college student, you could face university discipline and criminal prosecution for a DWI. In some cases, you can even face university disciplinary procedures even if found not guilty of criminal charges. Under section 1.3 of the Student Code of Conduct, "university disciplinary action may be instituted against a student charged with conduct that potentially violates both criminal law and University policy without regard to pending civil litigation or criminal arrest and prosecution."

Violations of the student code of conduct also include providing open access to alcohol and hazing. Hazing often happens in fraternities, sororities, or membership organizations on campus as part of an initiation or gaining membership in a group. The University of Houston takes hazing very seriously and doesn't tolerate reckless behavior. Hazing includes consuming alcohol that would subject a student to an unreasonable risk of harm and coercing another student to consume alcohol or drugs.

Aiding and abetting and complicity are all violations of the code of conduct as well. If you assist someone in violating the code or know of someone violating the code, you could also be breaking the student code of conduct. If you're a sorority or fraternity member, you could also face discipline or removal from your fraternal organization. Similarly, U of H holds student-athletes to high standards. If convicted of a DWI, you could find yourself removed or suspended from college athletics.

Professional Student Consequences

Professional students could also face additional repercussions from a DWI conviction. For instance, the College of Nursing has an additional code of conduct for its students, covering Student Professional Conduct and Demeanor. The policy is broader than the university code of conduct and requires nursing students to comply with professional licensing standards.

Similarly, the College of Pharmacy at U of H has additional Academic and Conduct Standards in conjunction with Stephen F. Austin State University and Lamar University. The College of Medicine also has a Code of Professional Conduct and Academic Honesty. The code requires that students obey all federal, state, and local laws and "shall not engage in any activity that will discredit the profession of medicine. "

A DWI conviction can also affect your ability to be accepted into graduate school, your ability to receive or retain a professional license, and jobs that you can hold. A criminal record can affect medical, nursing, teaching, pilot, business, and dental licenses. A conviction can also limit your ability to hold a security clearance or become a law enforcement officer.

Parents with a Student at the University of Houston

If you are a parent of a U of H student recently arrested for DWI, you're probably scared and wondering what you should do next. You may need to arrange bail, find your child's car, and hire an attorney. Once you've retained counsel, there will be more decisions for you and your child to make regarding the DWI defense.


Once the police process your child into jail, you may be able to post bail. Bail is an agreement between your child and the court that your child will appear for their upcoming DWI court date. Typically, bail is available for a first-time DWI charge and will be less than $1,000, although there is no set bail amount. If your child fails to appear, you will forfeit the amount you posted for bail.

Deal With the Car

If the police arrest your child for DWI, they have several options for the car they were driving:

  • Allow a sober, properly licensed passenger in the care to drive it;
  • Wait at the scene for a friend or family member to come to pick up the car; or
  • Arrange to have the car impounded and towed to pick up at a later date.

Texas police officers aren't under any obligation to wait at the scene for someone to come pick up the car. They are only obligated to use their best reasonable judgment in deciding what to do with the vehicle.

Hire an Attorney

It's crucial to retain counsel for your child as soon as possible. A DWI case has deadlines that will begin to approach quickly after the arrest. While many people assume a DWI arrest isn't something you can challenge, this isn't the case. Your child is innocent until proven guilty. DWI defense can often include:

  • Challenging probable cause for the stop or the arrest;
  • Challenging the accuracy of the blood or breathalyzer test results;
  • Moving the court to suppress evidence; and
  • Challenging any violations of constitutional rights;

An experienced DWI defense attorney can review your child's case, give you your options for a defense, and help you determine the best course of action.

Consider an Administrative License Revocation Hearing

Once you've retained an attorney, the first step is to discuss whether an administrative license revocation hearing is a good idea. This hearing is unrelated to the criminal DWI case. Rather, it is a formal legal proceeding to challenge a driver's license suspension before an administrative law judge. As part of the hearing, your child can contest the results of a BAC test or the probable cause that led to the stop, a blood test warrant, or the arrest.

If you fail to request the ALR hearing within 15 days of the arrest, the state will automatically revoke your license because of the DWI arrest. Thus, the hearing can allow you to keep driving if needed for your job or education. But the hearing can also offer insight into the state's DWI case against you, including the arresting officer's testimony and the state's evidence supporting probable cause for the DWI stop or arrest.

Contact a University of Houston DWI Lawyer

A DWI charge is a serious matter, and it isn't something you should try to handle yourself. You also shouldn't feel pressured to plead guilty. Everyone makes mistakes, and an experienced DWI lawyer can help. A skilled DWI attorney should offer trial experience, investigative skills, technical skills, a deep understanding of BAC technology, and legal and negotiating skills. A DWI trial is a serious legal proceeding that follows the rules of evidence and the Texas courts. You need someone fighting for you with a deep well of knowledge and experience regarding Texas criminal and DWI law.

Attorney Doug Murphy is Board Certified in DWI defense by the National College for DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is one of only two attorneys in Texas who are Board Certified in both criminal law and DWI defense. Best Lawyers in America has also named Doug the Lawyer of the Year in DWI defense based on the peer reviews of fellow Houston-area attorneys. He previously served as President of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. Doug also served two consecutive terms on the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association board of directors and the DWI Committee co-chair.

If you or your child are facing a DWI charge, give us a call at 713-229-8333 or contact us online. You need knowledgeable, skilled advice about your DWI defense, and we can help.

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