Despite the laws prohibiting drinking and driving in every state, drivers continue to take chances. In Houston, TX and elsewhere in the state, many motorists believe they can handle their liquor. They get behind the wheel even when they’ve had several drinks. While some make it home safely, others get into accidents or scare other road users with their reckless driving. Very often, they get pulled over by the police. If you’re a driver in Texas you need to know the law. While you should hire a Houston DWI lawyer if you’ve been charged, having some basic information can be helpful.
Law enforcement officers can charge you with a DWI if you drive a motor vehicle while intoxicated in a public place. Intoxication can be determined in two ways. If you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more, you’re intoxicated under the law. However, you can also be charged if you lose the usual use of your mental or physical faculties due to alcohol or drugs.
What Happens When You Are Pulled Over for a Suspected DWI?
If an officer has reason to pull you over and suspects you’ve been drinking, a few things will happen. The officer will likely ask you to get out of the vehicle and take a field sobriety test. This standardized test has three parts:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus or flashlight test which checks how your eyes respond to stimuli
- The Walk and Turn where you’re asked to walk for nine steps heel-to-toe in a straight line
- The One-Legged Stand which involves standing with your foot six inches off the ground and pointed with your legs straight.
You can refuse to take these tests. However, doing so may cause you to be arrested on suspicion of a DWI. You will then be asked to take to a breath or blood test. Despite Texas’ implied consent laws, most people can refuse to be tested. However, your license will be taken away and you may still face DWI charges.
Penalties for DWI Which a Houston DWI Attorney Will Discuss with You
If you’re arrested for drunk driving, you will likely face administrative and criminal penalties. On the administrative side, your license is likely to be suspended. You will have to pay fees even if you’re aren’t ultimately convicted of a crime. If you do get convicted, you may be hit with jail time and heavy fines. Your punishment will depend on your history with DWI offenses.
If it’s your first DWI offense, you may have to go to jail for between 3 and 180 days. Your driver’s license will be suspended for up to a year. In addition, you will later have to pay an annual fee of $1,000 to $3,000 to hold on to your license. You’re also likely to be hit with a fine of up to $2,000. If your BAC is .08 or higher, the fine can be as high as $4,000. You can spend up to a year in jail.
For a second offense, the maximum fine increases to $4,000. The jail time ranges from 30 days to one year. Also, your license can be suspended for between 180 days and two years.
If you are found guilty of a third offense, you can be fined up to $10,000. You may be sentenced to between two and ten years in prison. Furthermore, your license is likely to be suspended for 180 days to two years. A third offense is a third-degree felony. You will serve your time in a state-run institution and not a county jail. You will also lose the right to vote and possess a firearm.
Thankfully, first-time offenders in Houston often get probation. Even repeat offenders may be able to get their sentence reduced. However, it is important that you hire an attorney to represent your interests in court. Despite the cost attached, it is the only way to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
Contact a Houston DWI Lawyer at Eddington & Worley Today!
If you or a loved one is facing a DWI charge, contact our skilled and experienced lawyers today. Our DWI attorneys in Houston will guide you through every step of the process. We will do all we can to keep you out of jail, or at least get your sentence reduced. If the police did not act within the law when they arrested you, we will find out. Don’t try to handle your case alone. Reach out to us today for the help you need.