Houston DWI Attorney
What Are Texas' DWI Laws?
Texas's DWI law can be found in Texas Penal Code § 49.04. It provides that any person operating a vehicle in a public place while intoxicated has committed Driving While Intoxicated.
Texas defines intoxication in more than one way. A person may be intoxicated if they do not have the normal control of their mental abilities because of drugs and/or alcohol in their system. A driver may not have normal use of their physical abilities as a result of medication or drinking. A person is considered DWI if they have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher in their breath or blood, regardless if their abilities are impaired.
A common problem created by Texas DWI law is that arrest decisions are made by minimally trained police officers. Harris county DWI officers may rush to opinions about whether the person has “normal” faculties. Many officers assume a driver is DWI if they have been drinking at all before driving. A huge factor in these arrest opinions are DWI “sobriety” exercises. Successful Houston DWI lawyers know scientific research has proven these tasks are invalid forensic measures of sobriety.
How Bad Is a DWI in Texas?
A DWI conviction in Texas is for life. A conviction for a felony or misdemeanor DWI will be on a person’s record for the rest of their life. There are also collateral consequences to a DWI conviciton. Aside from the jail time and fines that can come from the criminal case, collateral consequences can include: drivers license suspension, inability to get many types of jobs, rejection from housing leases, alcohol breath device on your car, and increased insurance rates.
Jim Medley has fought as a DWI attorney in Houston for over two decades. He and his staff recognize how your life can be impacted by a conviction for Driving While Intoxicated. They will carefully consider all of these factors while counseling you through the DWI court process.
What Are the Criminal Consequences of a DWI Conviction?
A Texas DWI can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. Several factors can cause a DWI arrest to be elevated to a felony. The most common circumstances that require a felony level DWI defense lawyer include: two or more past DWIs, a crash involving serious injuries, a child in the vehicle, illegal drugs found after the stop, or evading the police stop.
Misdemeanor DWI charges in Texas include:
- DWI first offense: For the most drivers, a first-time DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum term of confinement of 180 days in jail. If the driver had an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher, a first time DWI is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail.
- DWI second offense: Generally, a second DWI in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor. Although a first-time DWI can also be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, a second DWI carries a minimum incarceration term of 30 days and a maximum of 1 year.
Felony DWI charges in Texas include:
- DWI with child passenger: If a driver accused of Texas DWI was transporting any person under 15 years of age at the time of the offense, they will be charged with a felony. This charge can result in a maximum of 2 years incarceration.
- Intoxication assault: A driver may be charged with this offense if they, while operating a vehicle while intoxicated, caused an accident resulting in serious injury to another person. It is a third-degree felony.
- Intoxication manslaughter: Charges for this offense arise when a drunk driver causes an accident resulting in the death of another person. It is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
- Multiple DWIs: A driver may be charged with a third-degree felony if they violate Texas's DWI laws and have previously been convicted of intoxication manslaughter or two or more driving while intoxicated offenses.
Regardless of whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony DWI in Houston, Jim Medley Defense Lawyer can offer you a free consultation and discuss how he can help you.
Is My Driver's License Automatically Suspended in a Texas DWI?
It is important to note that you can lose your driving privileges from the DPS even if your DWI case has not concluded. Driver's license suspension before a driving while intoxicated conviction can occur when a person refuses consent for a specimen, or has an alcohol level over .08.
Under Texas' implied consent law, any person arrested for DWI in the state has agreed, without directly saying so, to be subject to a blood, breath, or urine test to determine whether they are intoxicated. On a first DWI arrest a refusal can lead to a suspension of 6 months. The DPS still will attempt to take the license for 90 days if you consent and have over .08. THESE DPS ACTIONS CAN BE DEFDENDED! Attorney Jim Medley has saved many hundreds of Texas licenses from suspension by the DPS. This ability to fight can only be preserved if a hearing is requested with 15 days of arrest.
Do not wait 15 days to get a lawyer! Texas DWI law only allows 15 days from the arrest date to challenge the DPS suspension of your license. If more than 15 days passes and no hearing is requested, the driver’s license will automatically be suspended. This cannot be appealed.
Once this hearing is timely requested, your license will remain valid until your Houston DWI lawyer has been able to fight the suspension. The amount of evidence the DPS needs to win these hearings is small, which means you need the best DWI lawyer you can hire to protect your license.
Are Sobriety Tests Valid DWI Evidence?
Not all DWI cases are built just on blood- or breath-alcohol tests. In almost every Harris County, Texas DWI case, an officer will at some point ask a driver to attempt balance and coordination exercises. Practically no one performs these exercises perfectly, including sober people. The best Houston DWI lawyers attend training and follow scientific research surrounding police sobriety tests.
Jim Medley has attended training and has been certified in DWI sobriety tests for almost 30 years. He has been an instructor of sobriety tests since 2004 and has taught at several DWI defense lawyer seminars on field sobriety tests. He has also testified in court as a scientific expert on DWI sobriety tests.
Are DWI Blood Tests Admissible?
Prosecutors in Harris County DWI cases almost always have evidence of blood alcohol or breath concentration against the accused. Blood is not always taken from a driver legally. Sometimes consent is obtained only through coercion, or a search warrant is not properly supported. In all of these cases, chemists behind the scenes are involved in alcohol concentration analyses. The work of these chemists is documented and a DWI Houston defense lawyers can question whether it was done correctly.
Jim Medley has a Master of Science degree in Forensic Toxicology. He has attended advanced training in forensic blood testing and continues his training in forensic procedures and case law. Attorney Medley has had high alcohol blood tests excluded by judges and disregarded by juries after a thorough scientific investigation.