DWI CRIMES

DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED

An arrest for DWI can be a stressful and frightening experience. After an arrest for DWI, it is important to quickly contact an experienced criminal defense attorney so that all avenues of attack can be preserved. Contact Mrs. Lacayo to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation. She will provide an aggressive defense, which may result in dismissed charges, reduced charges, or minimized punishment.

 

YOU ONLY HAVE 15 DAYS TO REQUEST AN A.L.R. HEARING

After you have been arrested for DWI, you only have 15 days to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles to challenge the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. Mrs. Lacayo can represent you in both your criminal case and your administrative license revocation hearing. See below for more information on A.L.R. hearings.

 

WHAT IS DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED (DWI) UNDER TEXAS LAW?

In Texas a person is driving while intoxicated, if they are operating a motor vehicle in a public place while they do not have the normal use of their mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of:

  • alcohol;

  • controlled substances;

  • drugs such as marijuana or prescription medications; or

  • dangerous drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or meth.

 

OR they are operating a motor vehicle in a public place and they have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

 

SHOULD I SUBMIT TO A BREATH TEST?

Generally, the answer is yes. Many counties, like Harris County, will issue a warrant every time a breath test is refused. If they believe you are driving while intoxicated, a warrant for a blood test can be achieved quickly and easily. While the “science” of both tests are problematic, the results of a blood test are generally perceived by jurors to be more reliable. Additionally, blood tests are often sent off for drug screenings after it has been analyzed for alcohol concentration. Even if you do not have illegal drugs in your system, the mixture of alcohol and prescription drugs may be used to argue you were intoxicated in your criminal case. The current breath tests only measure alcohol and cannot detect drugs or medications. Additionally, the Department of Motor Vehicles provides for longer administrative license suspensions for those that refuse to provide a test of their breath or blood. Also, if you refuse, the fact that you refused to provide a breath or blood sample can be presented at your trial.

The exception is if you are concerned that your BAC may be 0.15 or over. In Texas, a 0.15 BAC or higher enhances a DWI to a Class A misdemeanor, doubling the range of punishment to up to a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail. In that case, it may be better to hope your BAC falls below that level by the time they get you to the station and through blood testing.

SHOULD I REFUSE FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS?

 

Generally, the answer is yes. If you know you have had nothing to drink and haven’t taken any drugs, taking the test can save you a lot of time and aggravation. However, if you are even somewhat unsure, it is best for you to refuse. The benefit of refusing is that the prosecution will not have footage to use against you in court and will have to rely on potentially unreliable blood or breath analysis to prove that you were intoxicated. However, you will likely be arrested on suspicion of DWI or asked to submit to blood or breath analysis. No one wants to go to jail, but it may help you avoid a DWI conviction. It is always good to request a lawyer to be present for any and all testing. The police are unlikely to satisfy this request, but it can be helpful to have your request documented.

 

TIPS TO HELP YOU AVOID A DWI CONVICTION

 

  1. Don’t drink and drive. But if you are stopped by the police . . .

  2. Do not perform any sobriety tests at all. The officer may request you to do certain things, for example to walk on a straight line, but you can and you should refuse, especially if you suffer from poor balance, or you are under the influence of any alcohol or other substance.

  3. Blow unless you are concerned that your BAC may be 0.15 or over.

  4. Be conscious about your body language and speech. Slurred speech and sloppy body language will be used to demonstrate intoxication.

  5. Be polite to the officer and remain calm.

  6. Remain in the car unless you are asked to exit your vehicle.

  7. Remain silent. Do not answer the police officer’s questions. Instead, politely ask to speak with an attorney.

 

CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR DWI UNDER TEXAS LAW

First DWI

 

In Texas, the first time you are charged with DWI it is a Class B Misdemeanor. Punishment can include, but is not limited to:

  • Up to a $2,000 fine;

  • A minimum of 3 days (6 days if there is an open alcohol container) but not more than 6 months in jail; and

  • Suspended driver’s license for up to 1 year.

First DWI – BAC 0.15 or more

 

In Texas, the first time you are charged with DWI it is a Class A Misdemeanor if your BAC is 0.15 or more.

 

Second DWI

In Texas, a second DWI is a Class A misdemeanor. Punishment can include, but is not limited to:

  • Up to a $4,000 fine;

  • A minimum of 30 days but not more than 1 year in jail; and

  • Suspended driver’s license for up to 2 years.

Third or Subsequent DWI

In Texas, a third DWI is a 3rd Degree Felony. Punishment can include, but is not limited to:

  • Up to a $10,000 fine;

  • Two to ten years in prison; and

  • Suspended driver’s license for up to 2 years.

Intoxication Assault

 

In Texas, a DWI with an accident where serious bodily injury occurred as a proximate cause of the intoxication is called intoxication assault. Intoxication assault is a 3rd Degree Felony. Punishment can include, but is not limited to:

  • A minimum of 2 years but not more than 10 years in prison; and

  • Up to a $10,000 fine.

  • Suspended driver’s license for up to 1 year.

  • Increased punishment ranges apply if:

    • There was serious bodily injury to a peace officer or judge while the officer or judge was in actual discharge of an official duty,

    • There was serious bodily injury to a peace officer, a firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of an official duty, or

    • Traumatic brain injury is caused resulting in a persistent vegetative state.

Intoxication Manslaughter

In Texas, a DWI where a death has occurred as a proximate cause of the intoxication is intoxication manslaughter. Intoxication manslaughter is a 2nd Degree Felony. Punishment can include, but is not limited to:

  • Up to a $10,000 fine and

  • A minimum of 2 years but not more than 20 years in prison.

  • Suspended driver’s license for up to 2 years.

  • 1st Degree Felony if the person caused the death of a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of an official duty.

 

DWI with Minor in Vehicle

 

In Texas, it is a state jail felony to operate a vehicle while intoxicated with a minor under the age of 15 in the vehicle. Punishment may include:

 

  • Up to a $10,000 fine; and

  • At least 180 days, but not more than 2 years in jail.

  • Suspended driver’s license for up to 1 year.
     

 

DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSION ONCE CONVICTED OF DWI

 

DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSION ONCE CONVICTED OF INTOXICATION ASAULT

 

DRIVER’S LICENSE SUPSENSION ONCE CONVICTED OF INTOXICATION MANSLAUGHTER

 

ADMINISTRATIVE DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSION

THE ALR HEARING

After you have been served with notice of an ALR (generally, when you are arrested for DWI), you only have 15 DAYS to request a hearing. If you fail to request a hearing, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended on the 40th day after your arrest.

HOW LONG WILL MY DRIVER’S LICENSE BE SUSPENDED FOR?

Adults (21 or older)

Refusal Case

The following periods of suspensions apply if you refused to provide a specimen of your breath or blood:

Failure Case

The following periods of suspensions apply if you consented to a peace officer’s request to provide a specimen of your breath or blood, and it had a concentration of 0.08 or greater.

Minors (under 21)

 

Refusal Case

The following periods of suspensions apply if you refused to provide a specimen of your breath or blood:

 

Failure Case – Alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater

The following periods of suspensions apply if you consented to a peace officer’s request to provide a specimen of your breath or blood, and it had a concentration of 0.08 or greater.

 

Failure Case – Alcohol concentration of less than 0.08.

Commercial Drivers License Holders

Generally, your commercial driving privilege will be disqualified for one year if:

  • You refused to submit to a test to determine your alcohol concentration

  • If an analysis of your breath or blood determines that you had an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or more while operating a motor vehicle, other than a commercial motor vehicle, in a public place; or

  • If an analysis of your breath or blood determines that you had an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more, or that a controlled substance or drug was present in your blood, while operating a commercial motor vehicle in a public place.
     

 

ALR HEARING

 

Issues at the ALR hearing:

Refusal Case

Mrs. Lacayo may be able to fight the suspension of your license at an ALR hearing where the Department alleges that you refused a chemical test by demonstrating that:

  • The officer did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop you;

  • The officer did not have probable cause to believe you were intoxicated;

  • You were not offered the chance to provide a breath or blood sample, or

  • You did not refuse to provide the breath or blood sample.

Failure Case

Mrs. Lacayo may be able to fight the suspension of your license at an ALR hearing where you provided a chemical test with a concentration over the legal limit of 0.08 by demonstrating that:

  • The officer did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop you;

  • The officer did not have probable cause to believe you were intoxicated; or

  • You did not have an alcohol concentration over the legal limit of 0.08.

Additional benefits to an ALR hearing:

  • Your defense attorney will have the opportunity to discover information about the evidence against you.

  • The attorney will be able to subpoena the arresting officer to the ALR hearing and compel his or her testimony under oath. This will provide the attorney the opportunity to question the officer prior to your DWI trial.

  • It provides an opportunity to determine possible defenses for your trial.

  • If you win the ALR hearing, the Department of Public Safety will not be able to suspend your license.
     

 

WHERE WILL THE ALR HEARING TAKE PLACE?

 

The Houston Field Office for the Administrative License Revocation Hearing is located at:

 

The Preserve at North Loop

2020 No. Loop (610) West, Suite 111

Houston, Texas 77018

Phone: (346) 272-5343

Fax: (346) 272-5344

 

Information about other office locations can be found on the website for the State Office of Administrative Hearings: www.soah.texas.gov.

 

OCCUPATIONAL DRIVER’S LICENSE

What is an occupational driver’s license?

If you have had your driver’s license suspended you may apply for an occupational license to drive to and from work, school, or for essential household duties.

What do I have to do to obtain an Occupational Driver’s License?

There are several requirements that need to be satisfied before a judge will grant an occupational driver’s license. These typically include:

  • File a Petition for an Occupational Driver’s License

  • Pay a filing fee

  • Pay all required reinstatement fees

  • Obtain SR-22 insurance

  • Some courts require a copy of your driving record

  • Present the Petition for your occupational license to a judge for approval.

Can I operate a commercial motor vehicle with an occupational driver’s license?

No. If your license is suspended, cancelled, or revoked under Texas law you will not be granted an occupational driver’s license to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

LACAYO
LAW FIRM, PLLC

212 Stratford St. | Houston, TX 77006 | 713.504.0506

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The information contained on this site is for general informational purposes only. The information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. We invite you to contact the Lacayo Law Firm, PLLC at 713-504-0506 to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Use of this website or submission of an online form, does not create an attorney-client relationship.
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