Charles Houston

Texas DWI Penalties and Defense Strategies

There is a misconception that because someone is released without bail after being arrested for driving while legally intoxicated, or a DUI, they aren’t going to have to pay serious penalties. This misconception leads to defendants not seeking the representation of a criminal lawyer to represent them and secure the best result in the case. This can be a major threat to a person’s future.

The truth is that the DUI penalties in Texas are among the harshest in the country.  Other strict states are New York, California and Virginia.  This is why you need an attorney to represent you if you are accused of DUI. Without the proper representation, you could find yourself paying the maximum penalties when you may not have to.

Mandatory DUI/DWI Penalties

There is a wide range of minimum sentences for a DWI in  the US and they are mandatory. These sentences can include prison time, probation, license suspension, and any other penalties found necessary by the judge. The seriousness of the penalty is going to depend on a number of factors. These factors are how high the blood alcohol concentration was, how many previous offenses have occurred, whether or not an accident was caused, and if there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

Test refusal also results in a separate penalty. It is automatic license suspension because, when you obtain your driver’s license, you are implying that you give consent to such testing if you are suspected of DUI.

Legal Defenses to Avoid Jail Time

There are several defense strategies that can be used to avoid having to go to jail. Those strategies are:

    1. Alternative Rehabilitation Disposition Program – Not everyone is eligible for this program. This is mainly reserved for those with no prior offenses.
    2. Proof of operation – When you are pulled over, remain silent. There are cases where a person may be involved in an accident and may be outside the car when police arrive.
    3. Blood and breath tests within two hours – Blood and breath tests must be performed within two hours of the time the officer observed that the person may have been intoxicated.

Sobriety checkpoints are not allowed in Texas (see 887 S.W.2d 16 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994)

  • Suppressing evidence – A motion can be made to suppress evidence, which is common in DUI cases. This can be done if there is a reason to believe that the traffic stop didn’t happen within the strict parameters set by the law. 
  • Breathalyzer refusal defense – Another area of DUI that is frequently litigated is the refusal of breath or blood testing. The warning of what will occur if testing is refused is not relayed by the police and that fact can be used as a defense by your criminal lawyer in most other states.

All of these defense strategies can result in the avoidance of jail time. If you’re already in jail after the arrest, then your lawyer can arrange for your release so you can go home and get back to your life as you wait for the day you have to go to court. Your DWI lawyer will work on a strategic defense designed to achieve the best result for you. Definitely don’t go at this alone. What you pay to an attorney will be less than the years of headache and aggravation.