The holiday season is generally always a busy time for law enforcement officers due to the number of intoxicated drivers on the roads, and Houston, Texas was no exception to the rule this year. Between December 26 and January 1st alone, officers of the Houston Police Department arrested 346 drivers for driving while intoxicated (DWI). For some, the DWI charge occurred while driving with children in the vehicle; for others, the arrest was a subsequent offense of driving while intoxicated.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) In Houston
In the state of Texas, an individual can face a charge of DWI "if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place." For purposes of this law, a person is deemed to be intoxicated if one of the following conditions is met:
- The person has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher; or
- the person does not have "normal use of mental or physical faculties" because of the consumption of alcohol, an illegal drug, or both.
Texas also maintains a "zero tolerance" law for minors, which means that a person under the age of 21 can be charged with DWI if the individual is operating a vehicle with any trace of alcohol in his or her body.
Penalties for DWI in Houston
Texas state law dictates the punishments that a person can face if found guilty of driving while intoxicated. The penalties for DWI conviction vary depending on how many times a person has been convicted in the past, if ever.
A conviction for DWI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than 0.15 is a Class B misdemeanor and carries a fine of up to $2,000, along with a jail sentence from 3 days to six months. If a person's BAC is 0.15 or above, the crime is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, wherein potential fines increase to $4,000, and a person can face a potential jail sentence of up to one year. Those who are convicted of DWI for the first time also face a suspension of driving privileges between 90 days and one year.
Those who are charged with DWI for a second time face even harsher penalties if convicted of the crime--a person found guilty of driving while intoxicated for the second time is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and can face a fine of up to $4,000, along with a potential jail sentence from 30 days to one year. The individual's driver's license can also be suspended for up to 2 years.
When someone is charged with DWI for the third time in Texas, he or she is no longer subject to a misdemeanor charge--third-offense DWI is a felony in the third degree. Those convicted of DWI for a third time can be issued a fine of up to $10,000 and face imprisonment for 2 to 10 years in a state prison. As this is a felony charge, such a conviction also prohibits a person from voting or carrying a firearm.
Charged with DUI in Houston? Doug Murphy is Ready to Help
If you are facing a charge of DWI in Houston, Texas, or a surrounding area, it's important to seek the competent legal representation you need as quickly as possible. With nearly two decades of experience in helping individuals defend against their criminal charges, Doug Murphy is equipped with the knowledge and drive that you need to fight your DWI charge. Don't wait until it is too late to fight your DWI charge--to speak with a member of our legal team about your charge, fill out an online consultation form or call (713) 229-8333 today.