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Frequently Asked DWI Questions

One of the most commonly charged offenses in Texas is driving while intoxicated (DWI). Texas also consistently leads the nation in traffic fatalities. In 2017, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that 44 percent of all traffic fatalities were in an alcohol-related accident.

To combat this issue, the state of Texas has implemented stringent DWI laws. In fact, constables in Harris County have even created DWI task forces to deter drunk driving. This means law enforcement is on high alert for intoxicated drivers. It also means the District’s Attorney Office are pressured to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law.

If you’re currently handling DWI charges, it’s important you’re informed. Texas courts aren’t kind to those convicted of driving under the influence. You could possibly face steep fines and even incarceration. In addition, DWI offenses have added conditions to their sentencing. You may be required to attend DWI class, do community service, have an ignition interlock device on your car and more.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a driving while intoxicated, it’s imperative you read this article which outlines frequently asked questions regarding DWI.

Attorney for DWI Charges in Houston, Texas

Have you been charged with driving while intoxicated? You must start your defense plan now. The state of Texas is unforgiving to people convicted of DWI. You could be sentenced to jail or prison time and have steep fines. Additionally, you could be required to fulfill more court-ordered conditions such as community service or DWI school.

Contact an experienced attorney today with Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc.. The attorneys at Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc. have years of experience representing people charged with driving while intoxicated. We can provide you with quality legal counsel, so you can obtain the best possible result from your case. Our attorneys are also compassionate with each and every client. We understand the criminal process is overwhelming, especially for a first-time DWI.

Call us today at (713) 224-5529 to schedule a case evaluation. We accept clients throughout the Harris County area including Houston, Tomball, Bellaire, and River Oaks.

Overview of DWI Questions in Texas


What does the prosecution need to find you guilty of DWI?

The prosecution must prove specific elements to convict you of DWI. The Texas Penal Code § 49.04 states the District Attorney’s Office must prove the following:

  • You were operating a motor vehicle in a public place; and
  • While you were driving your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was at .08 or higher OR your physical and mental faculties were impaired by alcohol or drugs

The majority of people believe law enforcement strictly use BAC as evidence for an DWI. However, this isn’t always the case. In some cases, police officers will arrest you because they have probable cause that your physical and mental faculties are impaired by alcohol or controlled substances.


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How many drinks does it take to have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08?

Blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is the number of grams of alcohol in your system. It can be measured through chemical testing such as breath analysis, blood analysis or urinalysis. While all tests are designed to gauge BAC, blood draws tend to be the most accurate.

Nearly all states, excluding Utah, have a legal limit of .08 or more. However, everyone metabolizes and absorbs alcohol at different rates. Many factors influence how you process alcohol including age, weight, recent meals, and tolerance levels. For example, a 120-pound person will probably only have to drink half as much as a 240-pound person to reach a BAC of .08.

Listed below is a chart you can use to determine your BAC levels. Each drink equals 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, five ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer. Cocktails and mixed drinks aren’t included since it’s impossible to standardize their alcohol content.

Weight Number of Drinks Consumed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
100 0.032 0.065 0.097 0.129 0.162 0.194 0.226 0.258 0.291
120 0.027 0.054 0.081 0.108 0.135 0.161 0.188 0.215 0.242
140 0.023 0.046 0.069 0.092 0.115 0.138 0.161 0.184 0.207
160 0.020 0.040 0.060 0.080 0.101 0.121 0.141 0.161 0.181
180 0.018 0.036 0.054 0.072 0.090 0.108 0.126 0.144 0.162
200 0.016 0.032 0.048 0.064 0.080 0.097 0.113 0.129 0.145
220 0.015 0.029 0.044 0.058 0.073 0.088 0.102 0.117 0.131
240 0.014 0.027 0.040 0.053 0.067 0.081 0.095 0.108 0.121

 


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What should I do if I get pulled over and I’ve been drinking?

Firstly, it’s important you’re friendly and polite throughout the exchange. Even if you’re refusing chemical or field sobriety testing you must maintain a calm demeanor. Insulting, fleeing, or resisting the stop will only exacerbate the situation further. The officer will ask to see your license and registration, which you should readily give.

The second most important thing is to not give the officer too much information. If they ask you have you been drinking, you have a choice to answer them directly or not. It’s recommended you don’t admit to driving intoxicated. Your statements during the stop can be used against you in trial.

The police officer may ask you to perform field sobriety or chemical testing. If you have been drinking, it’s highly recommended you refuse chemical or field sobriety tests. These tests can be devastating to your case. Submitting to testing will make your DWI case much harder to win because the prosecution will have concrete proof of your intoxication. If you don’t comply with testing, the District Attorney will only have objective evidence from the police report.

The last piece of advice is to not to let the officer intimidate you. They will likely tell you that if you don’t submit to testing you’ll have your license suspended and be taken to jail. What they aren’t telling you is that you’ll be forced to go to jail and have your license suspended anyway if you blow over .08. It’s an lose-lose situation so the best course of action is to refuse testing.


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How do I avoid being arrested for a DWI?

Unfortunately, if the officer has probable cause you’re DWI, then you won’t be able to escape arrest. You can submit to chemical or field sobriety testing to prove you’re not intoxicated. However, those tests have been known to give skewed results. Lab personnel could contaminate your sample or the equipment may be outdated. For field sobriety testing, many factors can influence your results including weight, physical ability, or even bad lighting.

If you want to take the chance and comply with testing, you may be able to avoid an arrest. Although if you have been drinking, it’s highly recommended you refuse testing. A refusal will likely lead to a license suspension and an arrest. If you submit to the test and fail, you’ll probably face the same result.

You may have to endure an arrest and booking for a short period of time, but if you refused the prosecution will have no evidence in your case. Complying to testing will give the prosecution valuable evidence that could convict you.


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How do I prevent getting a suspended license from a DWI stop?

When your license is suspended it’s an administrative penalty, not a criminal one. Because of this, you can contest your license suspension by filing a request for an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. However, you must file it quickly. You only have 15 days after receiving notice to contest your license suspension.

Once that period is up you’ll be barred from filing an ALR hearing. Your license will then be suspended 40 days after you received notice of the suspension. Winning an administrative license hearing could also be great evidence if the judge allows the information into the courtroom.


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What are the penalties for a DWI?

First Offense

  • Fine of up to $2,000;
  • Up to 180 days in jail;
  • Up to 100 hours of community service;
  • License suspension for up to 12 months;
  • Possible substance and alcohol abuse evaluation;
  • Possible court-order to enroll in DWI school;
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device; and
  • Annual fee of up to $2,000 every three years by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)

Second Offense

  • Fine of up to $4,000;
  • Up to 12 months in jail;
  • Up to 200 hours of community service;
  • License suspension for up to 2 years;
  • Completion of DWI school;
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device; and
  • Annual fee of up to $2,000 every three years by DPS

Third Offense

  • Fine of up to $10,000;
  • Up to 10 years in prison;
  • Up to 200 hours of community service;
  • License suspension for up to 2 years;
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device; and
  • Annual fee of up to $2,000 every three years by DPS.

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Will I go to jail if this is my first DWI?

If you have a clean criminal record and the DWI didn’t result in property damage or injury, then you’ll likely not have to worry about jail time. Texas courts don’t typically incarcerate first time nonviolent offenders if they have no criminal history. You will probably be court-ordered to community supervision.

Community supervision is also referred to as probation. It’s an alternative to jail time where you’re required to complete certain conditions. Some of these include meeting with your probation officer, drug screenings and counseling.


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How long does a DWI stay on your record in Texas?

The only way to remove a DWI from your record is by sealing or expunging it. Sealing your records will mean most public and private entities won’t be able to pull up your charges. The conviction will not be on your public record, but certain licensing agencies may be able to access it. Expunction completely erases your DWI charges entirely. However, expunction is incredibly hard to obtain for a DWI.

Each legal process has its own conditions and you must apply for it. You can only qualify to have your record sealed if you were put on deferred adjudication for your DWI. For expunctions, the sole way to qualify is if the crime was pardoned, acquitted, or dismissed. In other words, you cannot expunge your DWI if you were convicted.


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If I receive probation, does I have a DWI conviction on my record?

Yes. If you were given probation instead of jail time, you’ll still have a final conviction on your record. Probation requires a plea of guilty or no contest.

However, you may be able to escape a conviction through a DWI diversion program. The program is a type of community supervision which focuses on rehabilitating DWI offenders. You’ll be required to complete conditions such as group therapy, treatment counseling and drug screenings. Once you’ve successfully completed the program, your charges may be reduced or dismissed.

If your charges are dismissed, then you could be eligible for expunction. Texas offers expunctions to people who wish to erase their criminal record. You must qualify and wait an appropriate amount of time before applying. Once your DWI is expunged employers, licensing agencies and your peers won’t be able to access your DWI charges.


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What if the arresting officer never read me my Miranda Rights?

If your officer never read your Miranda rights, then any interrogations used during or after your arrest will be void. However, some of your statements before your arrest could be used against you in court. This is why it’s so important you speak as minimally as possible to the officer when you’re pulled over.


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What should I expect from my lawyer?

During this time, it’s crucial you have quality representation. A skilled attorney can be the difference between a conviction and a dismissal. Your attorney should have certain attributes and procedures that will help you create a strong defense.

You should expect your lawyer to:

  • Thoroughly investigate the facts of your case;
  • Inform you of all your available legal options;
  • Collect strong evidence for your case
  • Have a comprehensive understanding of DWI laws and constitutional rights;
  • Be experienced in DWI or alcohol-related cases;
  • Subpoena witnesses and helpful information;
  • Prepare and conduct a rigorous cross examination of any witnesses; and
  • Never back down from a challenge.

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Additional Resources

Texas DWI Laws – Visit the official website for Texas DWI statues to learn more about driving while intoxicated charges. Access the laws to learn the penalties, aggravating factors and other alcohol-related offenses in Texas.

DWI Statistics in Texas – Visit the official website of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to access statistics regarding driving while intoxicated. Access the document to learn more about DWI-related injuries, fatalities and comparisons between urban and rural areas.


DWI Attorney in Harris County, Texas

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI, it’s essential you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can assess your case and inform you throughout the process. Contact the attorneys at Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc. to find a skilled lawyer today.

Call us now at (713) 224-5529 to schedule a case evaluation today. We can overlook the facts of your charges to find the best legal path for you. We accept clients throughout the Houston area including Bellaire, Uptown, River Oaks, Pasadena and Tomball.


This article was last updated on March 8th, 2019.

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