Texas is home to hundreds of thousands of registered guns alone, and there's probably more unregistered guns because in Texas, you are not required to register your gun. Until 2016, you had to have a concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry your weapon -- so long as it was concealed. As of January 1, 2016, it became legal to openly carry your gun in Texas -- so long as you have a License to Carry (LTC). With this law change, firearms no longer have to be concealed, but again, you must have a LTC if you intend to carry your gun in the open and properly in a holster or in your vehicle while on your person. This license to carry is valid for five years, whereupon you must renew it. Eligibility for this license is also subject to certain qualifications, some of which include maintaining clean arrest and criminal records.
Unfortunately for some, this means not only will a conviction impact your LTC right but a charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI) can also impact that right. It is important to find an experienced Board Certified DWI attorney and Board Certified criminal defense attorney in Houston TX if you have been charged with a DWI and also possess a License to Carry. Doug Murphy is one of only two lawyers in the State of Texas who enjoys double Board Certifications of both DWI / DUI defense through the National College of DUI Defense and criminal law through the Texas Board of Legal Specializations.
What happens to your LTC and gun if arrested for a DWI in Texas?
An arrest for a DWI can impact your LTC but it won't necessarily affect your right to own and use a gun. What happens is something like the following.
When pulled over for a traffic stop, the police will ask for your license and registration. You are not obligated under Texas law to inform the police that you are carrying a weapon in the vehicle, either on your person in a proper holster or concealed in a glove compartment or elsewhere in the car.
If the officer suspects alcohol or drugs, a DWI investigation may ensue. At some point, you may be requested to exit the vehicle. At the same time, it will become evident to the officer that you have a gun on your person. The officer will ask to see your LTC, which you must provide upon request.
If you fail field sobriety tests, fail a preliminary breath test, or show other signs of intoxication, you will likely be arrested. Your vehicle will be impounded and your gun will be confiscated. During the pendency of your DWI case, your LTC will be suspended, but you will be able to keep your firearm(s).
The relevant Texas Code is § 411.172(a), which provides the eligibility criteria. Of the 14 criteria, no. 4 applies in cases where you are arrested and charged with a DWI. You lose your ability to maintain a LTC if you have been "charged with the commission of a felony, Class A or Class B misdemeanor, or Disorderly Conduct." A first and second DWI charge are misdemeanor charges while a third or subsequent DWI charge is a felony charge.
The problem, however, is that you will not only be charged with a DWI but according to Texas Penal Code § 46.02(a)(2)(A), you can also be charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon. Regardless if you had a license to carry your weapon on your person and/or in your vehicle, the alleged commission of a DWI means you allegedly unlawfully possessed a firearm during the commission of a crime. Your LTC, therefore, will be suspended during the pendency of your DWI case.
What happens to your LTC and gun if you are convicted of a DWI in Texas?
If you are convicted of a DWI, your LTC will be affected, and in some cases, so will your right to own and possess a firearm.
- A conviction of a first DWI -- a misdemeanor -- means you will be disqualified for five years of possessing a LTC, but your right to own and use a gun will not be hindered. It is important to know that for the purpose of a LTC, even if you qualified for deferred adjudication, you will still remain disqualified for five years to obtain a LTC.
- A conviction of a second DWI within ten years invokes another disqualifying criteria where a chemically dependent person is ineligible to obtain a LTC. A second DWI within ten years could deem you as a chemical dependent person according to the meaning of § 411.172(a).
- A conviction of a third or subsequent DWI -- a felony -- means you are likely permanently ineligible to obtain and maintain a LTC in Texas per Texas Penal Code § 411.172(a). A felony conviction also means you could lose your right to own and possess a firearm indefinitely.
These consequences are serious and can have a real impact on your Second Amendment rights.
The Importance of Finding the Best DWI Houston and Texas Attorney for You
Finding the best DWI attorney in Houston TX is imperative if you want to maintain your license to carry and -- in some cases -- maintain your right to own and use a firearm. Dismissal or acquittal of a DWI charge is imperative. Once your DWI case ends in your favor, so too will the charge of unlawful possession of a firearm. Your LTC will also be reinstated.
But first, you must retain an experienced, Board Certified DWI defense attorney. Doug Murphy has demonstrated time and again his skill and qualifications before a judge and jury and before his colleagues. When not fighting on behalf of DWI suspects, he is often traveling Texas and beyond to speak to other DWI attorneys about strategies and trial tactics that can be implemented to improve their own DWI practices. Doug Murphy is an attorney who cares and who has a deep desire to take on challenges and win his cases. If you are looking for the best DWI attorney in Houston, TX for you and your DWI case -- so you can maintain your LTC and right to own and use a firearm -- then contact Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today.