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DWI Attorneys in Houston

Driving While Intoxicated is a Class B misdemeanor with a range of punishments from three to 180 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,000. However, Texas law increases punishment for persons with prior DWI charges for which they were found guilty. An individual who pleads “guilty” or “no contest” to a DWI may not receive deferred adjudication. Hiring a Houston DWI lawyer can greatly increase your chances of receiving a favorable outcome.

Houston DWI Lawyer

Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

If you were pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Houston County, it’s important to seek legal representation immediately. A DWI conviction in Texas can result in the loss of driving privileges, jail time, fines, and mandatory enrollment in an alcohol education class. It can also adversely affect your reputation, career, and personal relationships.

Is There a Difference Between a DWI and a DUI in Texas?

Some states use the terms “DWI” and “DUI” interchangeably, with their legislature recognizing them as the same crime and likely only using one of these terms in official, legal circumstances. Other states have written laws and charges regarding drunk driving only under the legal term DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated). However, this is not the case in the state of Texas.

Other states might have different classifications and technicalities when distinguishing these two unlawful offenses, but it’s important to understand the differences under Texas law, as the charges are distinct in their severity.

Texas recognizes DUI as a crime that is primarily relevant to minor drivers who are below the legal drinking age of 21. A DUI in Texas is considered a Class C misdemeanor. Contrastingly, a DWI is viewed as more serious since it applies to adults of legal drinking age. DWI crimes fall under the category of Class B misdemeanors.

While the state is slightly more lenient toward minors who violate traffic laws, it’s important to remember that driving under the influence of alcohol is still a very serious crime. Even as a minor, a misdemeanor charge will stay on your permanent record indefinitely, even when you are not found guilty.

If convicted, getting the crime expunged is not possible, and strict qualifications apply to get the offense sealed. A criminal record can impact your future, including job opportunities and purchasing real estate. It’s important to seek strong legal counsel for a minor DUI.

What Is Considered Drunk Driving in TX?

Under Texas law, DWIs and DUIs do not only include being under the influence of alcohol. You may also be charged with an intoxicated driving charge if you are under or suspected of being under the influence of illicit drugs or even prescription medications. There are no standard tests for measuring the level of drug intoxication like there are for alcohol consumption, so it’s often left up to the officer’s discretion and their findings from field sobriety tests.

For blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests, any driver found to have a BAC limit of 0.08 or above will be charged with a DWI. The legal limit for commercial vehicle drivers is below 0.04; if their BAC is 0.04 or higher, they will be charged and their work licenses revoked. There is a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers. If a minor under 21 is found to have any BAC result above 0.0 while operating a motor vehicle, they will be charged with a DUI.

Texas law also states that all drivers offer “implied consent” to BAC tests that check for the presence of intoxicating substances, along with all chemical testing (such as blood or saliva) upon an officer’s request.

Refusal to take an initial breath test will not incur additional consequences, but exercising your right to refuse chemical tests will inflict immediate penalties against you. The first refusal will suspend your driver’s license for several months. A second refusal can lead to a license suspension of two years.

Keep Your Driver’s License

You have 15 days from the date of your drunk driving arrest to request an Administrative License Revocation Hearing (ALR). DWI attorneys Segura and Kiatta can represent you at this hearing and dispute your license suspension before an Administrative Law Judge.

How to Beat a DWI Charge in Houston

No matter how hopeless your case may seem, there are a number of defense strategies that are effective in DWI cases, some of which include:

  • Challenging the legality of traffic stop and arrest — did the police officer have probable cause to stop your vehicle and/or arrest you?
  • Questioning the validity of the BAC test results – was the breath test administered properly? Was the breathalyzer machine properly calibrated?
  • Discrediting the field sobriety tests — do you have a medical problem that inhibited your coordination? Did the police officer fail to follow proper protocol?
  • Scrutinizing whether your constitutional rights were violated (i.e. illegal search and seizure)

Get A Trusted Legal Advocate on Your Side Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI in Fort Bend County or Harris County, you need to act quickly to protect your rights. Call Segura and Kiatta, LLP to schedule a free consultation with one of our exceptional DWI attorneys.

First Offense

In most circumstances, a person convicted of DWI for the first time will not be required to spend time in jail but will, upon his timely application, receive community supervision (probation).

The maximum term of probation is two years. As a condition of probation, the person will be ordered to pay a fine, report to a probation officer, perform community service, abstain from the use of alcohol, and attend a DWI education course. In addition, a person’s driver’s license may be suspended for up to one year.

However, if you receive community supervision and take the court-ordered DWI course you will be able to keep your license.

  • If an open container of alcohol is present in the passenger compartment, the minimum period of confinement is increased from 3 to 6 days
  • If an analysis of a specimen of breath or blood shows an alcohol concentration of .15 or greater, the offense becomes a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000.

Second Offense

A person convicted of a second DWI faces a minimum term of confinement lasting 30 days with a 365-day maximum along with a fine not to exceed $4,000,00. A person convicted of a second offense is eligible for community supervision (probation) but will be required to serve a minimum of three days in jail as a condition of community supervision. In addition, the person may be restricted to the operation of a motor vehicle

equipped with an ignition interlock device. The interlock is a breath alcohol testing device which is connected to a car’s ignition system. Before starting the car, the driver must blow into the device which then analyzes the specimen to determine the alcohol content. If the alcohol content is above the specified amount, the vehicle will not start.

Similarly, at random intervals, while the vehicle is being operated, the interlock will request additional breath specimens for analysis. All test results are recorded and available to court personnel.

A second DWI which is punished as a class A misdemeanor but for which probation is not granted will result in an automatic suspension of not less than 180 days or more than one year.

Third Offense – Felony

If a person is convicted of a third DWI and it is shown that he has previously been convicted of two or more offenses relating to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the person is guilty of a third-degree felony which carries a range of confinement in the penitentiary for not less than two years nor more than 10 years plus a fine not to exceed $10,000.

In the event community supervision is granted, the individual will still be required to do a minimum of 10 days in jail as part of his probation. The period of license suspension is up to two years.

What Makes a DWI Charge Aggravated in Texas?

You will be charged with a DUI/DWI if you are found to be under the influence of substances or alcohol to a degree that exceeds the legal limit. However, if there are certain factors present in your case of intoxicated driving, these can lead to your offense being viewed more seriously. An enhanced DWI charge, also called an aggravated DWI, will be treated more severely in court proceedings, and it can lead to harsher penalties if you are convicted.

Factors that can aggravate your DWI include:

  • A child passenger aged 15 or younger was with you during the time of your arrest.
  • Your BAC is 0.15 or above.
  • Your accident led to the serious bodily injury or death of another person.

For intoxicated driving with a minor present, which is a state jail felony, a conviction is punishable by a heavy fine, license suspension, and time in jail.

Intoxication Assault

Intoxication assault occurs when someone inflicts serious bodily harm on another person while intoxicated and operating an aircraft, amusement ride, watercraft, or motor vehicle in a public space. For intoxication assault charges to apply, the offender’s intoxication must be the reason for the serious bodily injury.

Serious bodily injury, according to Texas law, is any physical damage that poses a significant risk of death or causes substantial permanent disfigurement in the victim. Injury that inflicts long-term/indefinite loss or impaired functioning of a body part, including organs, is also considered to be a serious bodily injury.

Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and not less than two years nor more than 10 years in prison. In the event a probated sentence is granted, a minimum 30 days in jail is required as a condition of probation.

Intoxication Manslaughter

Committing intoxication manslaughter entails causing manslaughter while intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle in a public place or an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride. As with intoxication assault, the intoxication must be the direct reason for the accidental death of another person.

Intoxication manslaughter is a felony of the second degree punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000 and not less than two years nor more than 20 years in prison. A person granted probation is required to submit to 120 days in jail as a condition of that probation.

DPS Administrative Surcharge

In addition to criminal penalties, a person convicted of a first DWI will be required to pay a surcharge of $1,000.00 per year for three years as a condition of maintaining his license. The annual surcharge increases to $1,500 per year for a second or subsequent conviction within a 36 month period.

If the person is shown to have had an alcohol concentration of .16 or greater, the surcharge is $2,000 per year for three years. Failure to pay the surcharge or enter into an installment payout agreement will result in the suspension of the license until all payments are made.

Underage DUI

Persons under 21 years of age are prohibited by law from drinking or being in possession of alcohol. The state’s drugged and drunken driving laws additionally deem it illegal for any minors to be operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a substance. Any detection of alcohol or controlled substances in the minor diver’s system will cause them to be charged with a DUI.

If a minor is convicted, they may face a fine along with a driver’s license suspension. The judge will also order the completion of community service hours in addition to a mandatory alcohol education program.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of a DWI or DUI Conviction?

There are, of course, legal penalties that a person will have to deal with if they are convicted of drugged or drunk driving. These may include heavy fines, incarceration, and their driver’s license getting suspended. However, there are also several other side effects that can arise from a DWI conviction or even just a DWI or DUI arrest that did not end up resulting in a guilty verdict. These may be referred to as “collateral consequences.”

It’s important to understand all the potential aspects of your life that can be negatively affected because of an intoxicated driving charge. Understanding these additional consequences also emphasizes how crucial it is to seek qualified legal counsel and representation if you are facing such charges.

Job Loss

The first collateral effect is that you can easily lose your job, especially if you are serving a sentence in jail or prison. It can be difficult to maintain the security of your employment when you’ve missed too many days of work.

Also, some employers do not want to keep or hire an employee who has been convicted of a crime, particularly in careers related to teaching, government, or other jobs that require employees to maintain a certain public reputation.

Opportunity Loss

Losing your job results in the loss of your source of income, leading to you having difficulty in paying bills, supporting yourself and your family, and the general ability to enjoy life. You may also lose professional licenses that you have earned and spent time training for, such as those for nurses, accountants, and engineers. A serious criminal misdemeanor, like a DWI, can also cause you to struggle with finding certain new job opportunities, as many employers use background checks.

Custody Loss

If you have a child custody agreement or may have one later, having a criminal conviction on your record can have a serious impact on the privileges you are awarded. A DWI charge will not prevent you from acquiring custody, but it is certainly something that the court takes into consideration. Additionally, the court will look into whether the DWI is demonstrative of a larger issue with addiction, which is taken very seriously in child custody considerations.

How Can a DWI Defense Attorney Help My Case?

Having a strong criminal defense lawyer to represent you during court proceedings and give you experienced legal advice can make a world of difference in a DWI case. You are more likely to receive a successful or favorable outcome, such as getting your DWI dismissed or the penalties against you lowered, with a skilled DWI defense attorney than you are by yourself.

You are not required by law to hire an attorney, but representing yourself is not a wise decision and puts you at risk. Defending yourself in court after being arrested for drugged or drunken driving does not do much to put you in a good light. It’s very possible that your defensive arguments won’t be taken seriously by the judge or jury, as opposed to a defense from a knowledgeable and skilled criminal lawyer.

A capable criminal defense attorney has a deeper understanding of the law than you are likely to have. Also, since they have extensive experience in helping clients against DWI charges, they are familiar with how such proceedings are likely to go, including what evidence the court requires and the most effective defense strategies.


Q: How Much Is a DWI Lawyer in Houston?

A: How much a DWI lawyer may end up costing will vary depending on several factors. Each case has different factors involved, which means that the type and duration of an attorney’s services will also be different for every case.

How much an attorney costs will depend on their experience with DWI cases, how long the court proceedings take, and the severity of the case itself, including any complications or aggravating factors. You can expect lawyer fees to cost between a few and several thousand dollars.

Q: How Do I Get My DWI Dismissed in Texas?

A: It is never guaranteed that you will get a DWI charge dismissed since there are no surefire approaches. However, an experienced DWI criminal defense attorney knows the strongest defense strategies to implement when representing your specific case. Potential defenses for a DWI case include questioning the validity of the blood alcohol and field sobriety tests, the arresting officer’s probable cause, and law enforcement’s adherence to protocol.

Your strongest chances of getting your DWI charge dismissed rely on the skills of an experienced defense attorney.

Q: Will a DWI Impact My Ability to Get a Job?

A: It’s very possible that a DWI will negatively affect your ability to find employment. You may lose your job or even your professional license.

New employers may be concerned by your criminal history after running background checks on you, causing you to have to explain your offense and prove that you have not re-offended. Other consequences include possible judgments against you in child custody agreements and restrictions on acquiring a loan or housing, voting, and owning firearms.

Q: Do I Need a Lawyer for a DWI Charge in Texas?

A: There are no Texas laws requiring a person accused of or arrested for a DWI to hire legal counsel. However, it’s highly advised that you seek a criminal defense attorney when facing a DWI offense, even if you plan to plead guilty to the charges.

A capable DWI defense lawyer can assess the details of your case to determine all your options. They can then advise you on the approach that is most likely to yield a favorable outcome with minimal to no penalties.

Q: How Long Can a DUI Case Stay Open in Texas?

A: DUIs/DWIs stay open for up to two years from the offense date (statute of limitations). After this, the district attorney can no longer prosecute the suspected individual. However, there are exceptions.

The time may be extended if:

  • The case is still under investigation
  • New evidence is discovered
  • The suspect is out of state, on the run, or in the military.

If they’re under 18, the case extends until the crime is discovered or until they turn 18 (whichever is later).

Rely on Seasoned Houston DWI Defense

Whether this is your first DWI or you’re a repeat offender, you are entitled to a strong defense.

At Segura and Kiatta, LLP, our DWI defense attorneys have over five decades of combined experience fighting for the rights of the criminally accused throughout Houston. We will work tirelessly to get the charges against you dismissed or reduced, or at the very least minimize the impact of serious penalties.

Anthony Segura and David Kiatta are looking forward to helping with your case. Our firm is pleased to offer a free initial consultation to discuss your legal rights and options. You can also call us at 281-570-6400 today.


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