Facts and Falsehoods about DUI’s
Houston DWI Resources and Information:
- Texas Statutes for Drunk Driving Charges
- What Are The Penalties For DWI In Texas?
- Texas Penal Code For DWI
- Contact a Houston DWI Lawyer Today
Texas Statutes for Drunk Driving Charges
Every state has multiple laws on the books that offer a breadth of punishments for persons who are convicted of driving while intoxicated. These penalties usually include a combination of jail or prison time, fines and the loss of driving privileges. In some cases, it may require a person to wear a tether or perform community service of some type. Under different circumstances, the convicted individual may be given an adjudicated sentence or probation. Let us consider the more common sentences for those who are found guilty of drunk driving in Houston.
In general, Texas lawmakers are inclined to lean towards the belief that severe punishments should be in place to deter drunk driving. Unfortunately, the truth is that this state leads the nation in drunk driving fatalities and our local Harris County is number one for drunk driving deaths in the state. This is sobering news for lawmakers who are not pleased to hold this record. So prosecutors and law enforcement continue to develop more statutes and programs with the hope that something will help us lose this unpleasant distinction. This is why hiring a DWI attorney can be beneficial for your case, they are well informed on new statutes and programs being enforced.
Developments of The Statutes
For instance, a first-time conviction for drunk driving can carry with it a jail sentence of up to 6 months and a hefty two thousand dollar fine.
The guilty person’s license can be suspended for up to one year. Be aware that a person who was found guilty of driving while intoxicated with a child in their car can face up to two years in prison and a ten thousand dollar fine. This is a much more severe set of penalties than any of our neighboring states have on their ‘books’. For instance, in one state the fine for the conviction is only one thousand dollars and jail time may be as minimal as a month. In yet another bordering state both the fine and jail time amount to a quarter of those in Texas. However, all include various and sundry surcharges and exceptions.
A second drunk driving conviction in Texas will result in stiffer punishment including a doubling of the fines and the requirement that an ignition interlock device be installed in the guilty person’s vehicle. A third conviction does not appear to be much different.
The legal limit at which a person is considered intoxicated is ‘0.08’ in the state of Texas and across the country. Commercial truck drivers are considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol content is ‘0.04’ or half of private drivers. Drivers under the age of twenty-one are prohibited from drinking at all.
Usually in the excitement of getting a driver’s license most people are not aware that in the state of Texas it comes with what is called ‘implied consent’. It may not seem important until you are pulled over for a suspected DWI and then asked to agree to a blood alcohol or chemical test to validate the presence of drugs or alcohol. To refuse this test means the state would automatically suspend your driving privileges. Don’t drive drunk.
Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated
- Statistics show that the number of convictions for first-time offenders of DUI laws is fairly high but a sentence of probation usually accompanies it. One reason for this may be the results of a study done by the U.S. Justice Department. Their findings revealed that convicted drunk drivers are much more likely to seek out support programs to address their drinking and driving issues if they receive a probationary sentence versus incarceration.
- Often in the case of probation, the judge will be stern in his (or her) warning to the defendant about repeating any appearance before them in the courtroom for any future, similar events – but then show a measure of leniency in the sentencing itself. The defendant may be required to pay hefty fines but be given probation.
- Probation is a sentence that allows for the convicted person to remain free of incarceration as long as they follow rules and regulations stipulated by the court. Probation is offered in lieu of jail time at the discretion of the judge but should a person disregard the probationary requirements they can be taken into custody and confined for a period of time.
- While probation is the most sought-after sentence by defense lawyers and their clients (short of an acquittal of all charges) because it is the least restrictive the courts also benefit from this choice as well. The cost of housing an individual in county facilities is becoming prohibitive and the court system is looking for less costly alternatives to punishing persons who are not considered (in general) to be a threat to society.
- Probation is still a form of punishment, however; it’s just punishment that one serves outside a prison cell. It is meant to be rehabilitative but not in the same way as incarceration. Persons who receive probation may be required to attend alcohol education classes or Alcohol Anonymous meetings. Be guaranteed that you will be asked to pay fines and fees and your driving privileges may be suspended or revoked for a period of time. A DWI attorney can help you fight for acquittal of all charges or probation following a DWI arrest.
- They may also be compelled to perform some type of community service. This could include such things as speaking to other persons about the dangers of drunk driving or visiting victims of drunk driving accidents and/or their family members so that the convicted drunk driver has a first-hand and up-close look at the consequences of the behavior. This is considered to be more profound, life-altering and effective deterrent to future drunk driving than any jail sentence could elicit.
- Finally, you will be scheduled to meet regularly with a probation officer. This may happen at the courthouse or other social services facility. The probation officer will have separate requirements and expectations of you throughout the probationary period and will weigh in at the end of the sentence. In order to ensure that your probation is successful attend all scheduled meetings with your probation officer and the courts and pay your fines on time.
Collateral Damages after a DWI
- There are many unfortunate surprises that await a person who has been charged and/or convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana or driving while intoxicated. For the purposes of this entry we will refer to them as ‘collateral damages’. First the experience of being arrested is unpleasant enough but after you are arraigned and walk out of the jail you may find that your car was impounded – so you’ll have to get a ride home. Impound and towing fees can be quite hefty depending on the circumstances. Your license will be in suspension in short order so you must either hire a top rated Houston criminal defense lawyer at The Law Offices of David A. Breston or otherwise lobby the municipality to prevent this. You may or may not be successful in this endeavor. If you were arrested in Houston on a drug crimes charge, call us today to speak to our attorneys immediately.
- Expect your insurance rates to skyrocket – and in many states your insurance company will be required to inform the state that they would be willing to continue to insure the driver. Too, if the person is looking for gainful employment a DWI conviction on your record may cause a prospective employer to reconsider their intent to hire you. If you are employed your current boss and company will need to be told (versus ‘finding out’ another way) and this is the type of incident that could prevent you from advancing in the organization among other things – and it may play a role if an organization begins to downsize as well. Finally, in some cases the employer may simply choose to fire you because of the liability involved with a convicted drunk driver.
- In addition, most people don’t realize that a DWI conviction can wreak havoc with travel plans. There are a number of desirable locations that will no longer be available to a person who has been found guilty of driving while intoxicated. Our neighbor to the north of us is a great example. A DWI conviction or drug possession charge in the United States is a felony offense in Canada and according to their immigration laws, persons with a felony conviction are prevented from entering the country.
- One of the choices at the disposal of the courts is to insist that the convicted driver install and maintain an ignition interlock device for a period of time. If this is required the addition costs could run into the hundreds or even up to a thousand dollars, there will be costs associated with the ticket itself as well as other court fees and fines.
What Is a DWI in Texas?
According to the Texas Penal Code 49.04, a DWI refers to someone who is driving while intoxicated. Texas uses your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) to determine whether or not someone is too intoxicated to be operating a vehicle. The established BAC limits are 0.08% for anyone 21 or older, 0.04% for drivers of commercial vehicles, or any detectable amount for those under 21.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that it takes a 180-pound man approximately four drinks to reach a BAC of .08. It also says that alcohol metabolizes at an approximate rate of BAC dropping .015 an hour, but these numbers vary on an individual basis.
Penalties For Driving While Intoxicated in Houston
In Houston, the penalties associated with a DWI depend on your age, license type (commercial or operator, for example), whether or not you had passengers in the vehicle, and if anyone else was injured. Here’s the breakdown:
A first-offense conviction includes a fine not to exceed $2,000.00 and/or the possibility of serving jail time from 3 days to 180 days, and a driver license suspension of 90 to 365 days. (Class B Misdemeanor).
- Up to $2,000 in fines
- 3-180 days in jail
- Suspending your license for up to 2 years
- Additional surcharges of $2,000 per year for keeping your license
- Education programs
DWI in Texas 2nd Offense:
The maximum fine increases to no more than $4,000.00 and/or jail from 30 days to one year, and a possible driver license suspension ranging from 180 days to 2 years. (Class A Misdemeanor).
- $4,000 in fines
- 30-365 days in jail
- Suspending license for up to two years
- Surcharges of $2,000 per year to keep your license (up to three years)
DWI in Texas 3rd Offense
- $10,000 (maximum) in fines
- 2-10 years in a state prison
- License suspension of up to two years
- Surcharges of $2,000 per year for three years
- Education programs
A DWI is the most common alcohol-related offense, but you can also be charged with other crimes involving your vehicles. It’s illegal, for example, to have an open container of alcohol in your passenger area, even if you’re parked. An open container is considered a class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a $500 fine, but a DWI/open container combo is a Class B misdemeanor that carries a minimum of six days’ jail time. There are many things that can be considered a motor vehicle, a DWI lawyer can help define these for you.
Some examples of impaired driving include:
- Driving too close to the vehicle in front of you
- Driving too slow or fast
- Almost hitting someone or something
- Making a wide turn
- Narrowly turning a corner
- Inconsistent braking
- Not making a complete stop when you go right at a light or stop sign
Driving while intoxicated and/or driving under the influence are such contentious topics that it has led to numerous misconceptions on the part of the public – which only further complicates reasonable discourse and long-range solutions. Unfortunately, groups representing all sides of the drinking and driving argument tend to refer to misinformation as a basis for their point of view – and when this is found to be false only strengthens the other side’s position. Consider the following facts and falsehoods about DWI and DUI and if you have recently been arrested for a DWI, call our Houston drunk driving lawyers now for a free consultation.
- When drunk driving fatalities are compiled annually they include any accident in which drinking was considered a factor – even if the driver has had no alcohol whatsoever. That means that if a bike rider or pedestrian is intoxicated and moves into the path of a vehicle that results in the death of anyone then this figure is added to the drunk driving statistics. Unfortunately, this then paints a false picture – increasing the numbers in such a way as to make it appear that drunk drivers are the perpetrators of these deaths.
- A second untruth is that both field sobriety tests and breath analyzers are excellent indicators of a person’s level of intoxication. Time and again the results have been proven invalid and the reliability of these tools has been shown to be questionable instead. Blood alcohol tests in which a person’s blood is actually drawn and then sent to a lab for examination are riddled with problems as well.
- Too, if you were to believe the government experts and anti-drinking and driving organizations intoxicated drivers account for nearly half of all highway deaths – a figure that would rile even the most laid-back American. However, a closer look at the data would reveal this to be a false claim. Instead, one need only consider the amount of federal and state funding and donations that filter through anti-drinking and driving groups to better understand the reason for these (outlandish) claims. This money keeps people employed (and otherwise lines people’s pockets) while preventing the average American from realizing that intoxicated drivers account for a much smaller number of vehicle fatalities annually – the number coming in at a much lower ten percent of all deaths. Certainly, that is not to excuse the behavior – but we must start from a point of realism in order to create viable solutions.
- Finally, it is simply not true that a single drink will cause every driver to become intoxicated – and lead to impaired driving. Every individual has a different physiological response to alcohol and it is your responsibility to know if you have had too much to drink. If so, make the adult choice to find an alternative way to get home. This may mean that you rely on a sober friend for a ride or call a taxi and return for your vehicle the following day. In so doing you are ensuring that you are not part of the problem – but have become a part of the solution instead.
Open Alcohol Container and DUI
- DWI with an open alcohol container (first offense): In addition to the penalty referenced above you face a minimum 6 days in jail and a fine of no more than $2,000.00. (Class B Misdemeanor).
DWI With an Accident
- DWI with an accident where serious bodily injury occurred as a proximate cause of the intoxication: this crime is called intoxication assault, and upon conviction you may serve a minimum of 2 years up to a maximum of 10 years in jail. Additionally, you may be fined up to $10,000.00. (3 rd Degree Felony).
DUI Involving Death
- DWI where a death has occurred as a proximate cause of the intoxication: here, the crime is intoxication manslaughter. Upon conviction you might have to pay a maximum fine of $10,000.00 and/or be imprisoned from 2 to 20 years (Intoxicated Manslaughter or Manslaughter with use of Deadly Weapon are both 2nd Degree Felonies).
DWI With a Child Passenger
- DWI with a child passenger: A person commits a state jail felony if they drive while intoxicated and there is another person in the vehicle who is under 15 years of age. `Punishment for a non-enhanced state jail felony is by confinement in a state jail for any term of not more than 2 years or less than 180 days and a fine not to exceed $10,000.00.
- In most DWI cases you will receive probation, but there is no guarantee that you will receive a probated jail sentence or fine. If you are convicted of intoxication assault and wish to receive probation, a minimum of 30 days in jail must be served as a condition of probation. If you are convicted of intoxication manslaughter you must serve a minimum of 120 days in jail. If you are convicted of Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter and the court or jury finds that you committed the offense with a deadly weapon you may not be eligible to receive probation at all.
Zero Tolerance for Minors
- Minors can be cited for violating Texas law if they are caught purchasing, attempting to purchase, possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages. Further, minors who consume any amount of alcohol and then drive a motor vehicle can be arrested or ticketed for illegal activity even where the minor is driving without being intoxicated. A person under 21 arrested for DWI will be treated differently mostly in regard to their driver license. Driver license restrictions and suspensions are more severe for a person under 21 arrested and convicted of DWI. A person who is under 21 will have a one-year suspension period even if they receive probation for a DWI. Thus, they may need a restricted driver license for one year.
- Texas is considered a zero-tolerance state regarding minors and DWI. For DWIs, a minor is considered anyone under the age of 21. Remember, any amount of alcohol is considered grounds for a DWI. For your first time offense alone, you can expect to receive a license suspension for up to one year, up to $500 in fines, a 12-hour long alcohol education program, and the possibility for 90 days community service.
- Even non-driving related alcohol offenses can affect your driving privileges as a minor. Acts like attempting to buy alcohol underage, having a fake ID, and public intoxication can result in license suspension of up to 30 days for your first offense, 60 for your second, and 180 for your third.
Other circumstances can also affect your maximum penalties. If you were driving with a child passenger, for example, you’ll automatically face $10,000 in fines, up to 180 days of license suspension, and two years in jail. Furthermore, if someone is gravely injured because you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated, you may be charged with intoxicated assault or intoxicated manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony. Contact the Houston defense attorneys today at the Law Office of David A. Breston. DWI cases are highly complex, David Breston employs strategic and creative strategies to represent his clients.
5 DWI/DUI Facts and Statistics
Reviewing the stats on automobile accidents, personal injuries, and deaths that driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) cause puts this national epidemic into perspective. Organizations such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) spend millions of dollars retrieving and analyzing crash data every year. The goal of these efforts is to educate the public on common health issues, raise awareness of unsafe driving practices, and hopefully prevent future accidents.
Drunk Drivers Hit the Roads More Than 300,000 Times Each Day
According to arrest data gathered by the FBI, while people drive drunk more than 300,000 times each day, police arrest only about 3,200. This disparity is due to the number of drivers who do not get caught driving drunk, or who “get away with it.” About one-third of all drivers convicted or arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders.
An average drunk driver has driven under the influence more than 80 times before his or her first arrest. Of drunk drivers convicted of the crime, 50% to 75% continue to drive illegally on a suspended license. Drivers caught with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher in fatal crashes were seven times more likely to have a prior DUI conviction than drivers with no BAC level in 2012. This points to a significant problem with repeat offenders who are likely addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Males Arrested Three Times More Often Than Females
In 2014, police arrested three times as many males for drunk driving as they did females. While there were 401,904 male drivers arrested, there were only 130,480 female DWI drivers arrested. Age matters as well: the highest percentage of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 was 21 to 24 years old (30%), followed by people 25 to 34 years old (29%) and then 35 to 44 years old (24%). The year before, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found the highest rate of drunk driving to be among 26 to 29 year olds (20.7%).
Someone Dies in a Drunk Driving Crash Every 51 Minutes
In America, someone dies in a drunk driving crash every 51 minutes. That is the equivalent of 27 people every day. The number of injuries from drunk driving crashes is much higher—about one person every two minutes. About one-third of all traffic accidents resulting in teenager death involved alcohol or drugs. Statistics show that children who partake in drugs and alcohol at a young age are seven times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related car accident at some point in their lives.
Almost 50% of Drivers Who Tested Positive for Drugs Also Drank Alcohol
Almost half of all drivers killed in accidents who tested positive for drugs also had a BAC level. In 2014, police arrested more than 1.1 million people for driving while intoxicated with alcohol or narcotics. In 2013, 28.7 million people—greater than the population of Texas—admitted to driving under the influence.
If you were arrested for possession of marijuana in Houston or possession of any illegal substances — call the drug crimes lawyers at the Law Offices of David A. Breston today for a free and confidential consultation.
Drunk Driving Costs the United States $199 Billion Per Year
According to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Report to the Nation in 2011, the cost of drunk driving in America equaled about $132 billion per year. This number rose to $199 billion per year by 2014, according to the NHTSA. These costs to the United States include health care for injured victims, young lives lost prematurely, and insurance expenses. Federal revenues pay for about 6% of these costs, while state and local governments pay for about 3%. The rest is split between private insurers, crash victims, and third parties.
DUI Arrests in Texas (2010-2016)
Data released by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows there has been a steady decrease in the amounts of DUI arrests in Texas. Of the 62,327 people arrested in Texas in 2016 for a DUI, only 0.2 % were juveniles and 77.7 % were males. 87.6% of arrests were of White descent and 10.5% were Black. According to the department, the remainder of races 53.1 % were not Hispanic and 46.9 % were Hispanic. The age group with the highest number of DWI’s were the 25 to 29 year-old group.