Every time you are arrested for driving while intoxicated in Houston, the consequences become increasingly severe. A second DWI is typically a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas and carries mandatory jail time. The situation can become much more dire if your second DWI involves an accident. If someone is injured, you could be looking at serious time behind bars. If you have recently been arrested for your second DWI involving an accident, you need the help of an experienced criminal DWI attorney immediately.
Doug Murphy is one of the only two attorneys in Texas to be certified in DWI defense and criminal law simultaneously. He has been fighting to protect the rights of clients accused of DWI for more than 18 years. His vast experience and specialized knowledge of Texas DWI law and procedure allow him to successfully advocate for his clients. If you have been accused of DWI, you want Doug Murphy to handle your case. Call the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to schedule your free consultation.
Second DWI in Texas
It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in Texas while intoxicated. Intoxication either means (a) your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit or (b) your ability to drive has been impaired because you have consumed drugs and/or alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, you can be convicted for DWI even if your BAC was within an acceptable range. If there is evidence to support the fact that you were not fit to drive, you can be charged with DWI.
A second DWI offense, absent any aggravating factors, is a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas. This is one small step away from being a felony. As a result, the penalties for a second DWI can be very harsh.
Jail Time: A second DWI conviction is punishable by no less than 6 days, but no more than 12 months, in jail.
Fines: Your second DWI conviction can also be punishable by fines of up to $4,000. This is in addition to any expenses related to court, probation, counseling, administrative proceedings, licensing fees, and ignition interlock devices.
Probation: Probation is a form of supervisory release that is often implemented in addition to jail time and fines. While on probation, you must comply with specific terms and requirements set out by the court. This can include refraining from drinking or using drugs, enrolling in alcohol or drug counseling, or completing community service. Violations of probation can result in jail time.
License Suspension: Your license will be automatically suspended the second time you are arrested for DWI. The arresting officer will take your license and give you a temporary permit. You must request an administrative license suspension hearing within 15 days of your arrest if you want to try to keep your license. This hearing is separate from any criminal DWI proceedings and will typically occur first. If you are formally charged with a second DWI the administrative judge has the authority to suspend your license for up to 12 months. You may be able to secure a special occupational license if you can prove that you need to drive for work or to care for your family. However, this license will be subject to very strict limitations.
Ignition Interlock Device: You may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle after a second DWI conviction. This device will prevent you from driving your car if there is any trace of alcohol on your breath. These devices and related fees can be very expensive.
Second DWI Involving an Accident
The consequences of your second DWI can become much more severe if you were involved in an accident. Specifically, you will probably face other criminal charges in addition to those for your second DWI. Those other criminal charges will depend on the type and extent of harm caused by your DWI accident. If you are convicted of additional crimes, any penalties will be in addition to those for your second DWI conviction.
Second DWI Causing Property Damage
Did your DWI accident cause property damage? If so, you could be charged with Reckless Damage or Criminal Mischief.
Reckless Damage: Reckless damage occurs when you “recklessly damage or destroy property” belonging to another person without their consent. When is conduct considered to be reckless? The state will have to prove that you knew, or should have known, the likely consequences of driving while intoxicated but “consciously disregarded” those risks.
Reckless damage is a Class C Misdemeanor and carries a fine of $500. However, you may also be vulnerable to a civil lawsuit for damages caused by the accident.
Criminal Mischief: Criminal mischief occurs when you “intentionally or knowingly damage or destroy the tangible property” of someone else. When is conduct considered intentional or knowing? Intentional means that you have a “conscious objective” to do something. Knowing means that you “are aware” of your actions and “reasonably certain” that a specific result will occur.
Criminal mischief is a wobbler in Texas, meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The charge will depend on (a) the extent of the damage caused and (b) your criminal record. Since this is your second DWI, the chances of being charged with felony criminal mischief are fairly high.
Second DWI Causing Bodily Harm
Did your DWI accident cause someone to get hurt? If so, you could face felony DWI charges for intoxication assault. However, in order to be charged with intoxication assault, another person must have suffered a “serious bodily injury.”
In Texas, a serious bodily injury includes those injuries that:
- Create a substantial risk of death
- Cause permanent disfigurement, or
- Cause the loss or impairment of a bodily member or organ.
Intoxication assault is a Third Degree Felony in Texas. A conviction is punishable by 2-10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Since this is your second DWI, the state will likely pursue the maximum penalties.
DWI Accident Causing Death
Nearly 40 percent of all deadly car accidents in Texas involve intoxicated drivers. If your DWI accident was fatal, you can face criminal charges for intoxication manslaughter. This is true even if the victim was a passenger in your own car or a pedestrian on the street. Intoxication manslaughter is defined as causing the death of another person by accident or mistake by reason of intoxication. That person's death can be immediate or occur at a later time and date. You can face criminal charges as long as the accident is the cause of that victim's death.
Intoxication manslaughter is a Second Degree Felony. Penalties include imprisonment for 2-20 years and/or $10,000 in fines. Since this is your second DWI, the state will probably seek the maximum sentence.
Fighting Second DWI Charges in Houston
Just because you were arrested on suspicion of DWI after an accident does not mean that you will be convicted. Even if you are charged with multiple DWI-related crimes, the state has to prove that you are guilty of each of those crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. When you hire Doug Murphy to handle your criminal DWI case, the state will have a very difficult time meeting this high standard.
As your attorney, Doug Murphy will thoroughly investigate your accident and alleged DWI. In addition to searching for evidence that suggests you were not intoxicated, he will also determine where the state's case against you is weakest. Attacking those weaknesses by discrediting evidence or offering alternative information can prevent the state from building a strong case against you.
Defenses that can help you fight a second DWI with an accident may include arguing that:
- You were not intoxicated
- You were not operating the vehicle at the time of the accident
- The accident did not result in property damage, serious bodily harm, or death
- The results of breath or blood tests are unreliable and/or invalid
- Police did not administer field sobriety tests correctly
- Police gathered evidence in violation of your rights, or
- You have been wrongfully accused.
Attacking the validity of any evidence gathered by the state can be an incredibly powerful tool for your defense. Without evidence to support its case, the state may be forced to consider a plea. Even better, the state may decide to drop the charges in their entirety. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to get started on your defense today.
Houston Criminal DWI Attorney
Have you recently been involved in a Houston car accident? Were you arrested on suspicion of your second DWI after the crash? If so, you need the help of an experienced Houston criminal DWI attorney. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to schedule a free consultation.
We will review the details of your accident and criminal charges and determine the best strategy for your specific case. The state will begin to build its case against you immediately, so it is important to contact us as soon as you can. Call today to speak with our qualified Houston DWI attorneys.