Have you been arrested for your first DWI in Houston? Absent any aggravating factors, a first-time DWI is a Class B Misdemeanor in Houston. A conviction carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines. You may also be ordered to complete a term of supervised probation and have your driver's license suspended. Here's a summary of what you should be aware of if this is your first DWI arrest in Houston TX or the surrounding metropolitan area.
First Texas DWI with a Blood Test
It's illegal to drive while intoxicated in Houston. There are two ways the state can show that you've broken the law. The first is by establishing probable cause based on circumstantial evidence and poor performance on field sobriety tests. The second is through the use of chemical testing to show that you have alcohol in your system, and one of those tests is the blood test.
What is a Blood Test?
Police in Houston will use a blood test to establish that you are intoxicated whenever they can. Blood tests tend to be much more accurate reflections of intoxication than breath tests. The test is conducted by drawing and analyzing a sample of your blood. The analysis can search for the concentration of alcohol in your blood as well as the presence of other substances. Any indication of drugs or alcohol in your body can be used as evidence against you in your Houston DWI case.
Can I Refuse a Blood Test?
You can refuse a blood test in Houston. However, there are consequences if you are arrested for DWI. Police will seize your license upon arrest and it will be automatically suspended for 180 days. You must file a request for a special administrative hearing within 15 days if you want to keep your driving privileges.
How Are Blood Tests Refuted?
DWI cases supported by a positive blood test can be difficult to win. You will need the help of an attorney who understands how to attack the validity of the blood test results and dismantle the state's case against you. Doug Murphy will carefully investigate your first DWI with a blood test case and search for issues that may have affected your blood test results. These may include:
- Blood was drawn from an incorrect source
- Samples stored incorrectly
- Tests not properly calibrated
- Chain of custody disputed, or
- Testing equipment not properly maintained and/or cleaned.
Any realistic issue that could affect the validity of your test results must be brought to the court's attention. Without reliable evidence to support its case against you, the state may be forced to offer a plea or drop the charges.
First DWI with a Breath Test
Breath tests are the easiest and most cost-effective way for police to determine if you are intoxicated. You do reserve the right to refuse a breath test. However, your refusal can have significant consequences if the state is able to convict you of the DWI anyway. You will not only face criminal penalties but also be subject to additional license suspension and fines.
What is a Breath Test?
Breathalyzers are used to measure the concentration of alcohol in your breath. The test result is then converted using a complex formula. The end result is intended to be a fairly accurate estimate of the concentration of alcohol in your blood.
How Are Breath tests Refuted?
Breath tests and results, however, are wildly inaccurate. There are dozens of factors that could potentially affect the validity of test results. These may include:
- Tests not performed in compliance with state regulations
- Breath test device improperly maintained and calibrated
- Your weight, age, and gender
- Foods you recently consumed, and
- Health issues and/or prescription medications.
So, issues can begin with the breathalyzer device itself and extend to how the test is performed. Your own personal health, as well as the things you have recently consumed, can also affect test results. The best way to defend yourself against first time DWI charges with a breath test is to attack the reliability of those results.
First DWI with an Accident
Driving while intoxicated increases the likelihood of being in an accident. An accident can increase the stakes if you are arrested on suspicion of your first DWI. It is very possible for your first DWI to be aggravated to a felony if you are involved in an accident. However, the charges against you and possible penalties will depend on the damage caused by your accident.
Accident Causing Property Damage
If you are involved in a DWI accident that results in property damage, you could potentially be charged with reckless damage or criminal mischief. Reckless damage is always a Class C Misdemeanor. Criminal mischief is a more serious crime and can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The charge you face will depend on the value of the property damage you cause.
Accident Causing Injury
Your first DWI will be aggravated to a felony if you are involved in an accident that causes another person to suffer serious bodily injury. A serious injury is one that causes impairment, disfigurement, or creates a high risk of death. Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony.
Accident Causing Death
Your first DWI will be aggravated to a felony if you cause the death of another person. This includes any passengers who were in your car at the time of the crash. Death can be immediate or occur hours, days, or weeks later. Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony.
Contact a Board Certified DWI Defense Attorney in Houston, Texas Today
The stakes are higher when your first DWI involves an accident. You could realistically be facing felony criminal charges. You'll need an experienced Houston DWI lawyer to help with your defense. Doug Murphy, a Board Certified DWI defense attorney, is prepared to help you fight to protect your future. Call today at (713) 229-8333 to schedule your free consultation.