DWI Charges, Texas Law, and Getting the Right Attorney
On many occasions people wander into situations that gets them arrested for a DWI offense by total surprise. Of course we all think it can’t happen to us, but often it does and an opened can of worms is the most common result.
Once you see those flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror your stomach may turn as you adjust your course to the side of the road. Most of the times when this happens intoxicated drivers don’t even realize that they are drunk, and are only expecting a speeding ticket. But to their surprise, the officer, by some miracle of the criminal justice fairy, gets reasonable suspicion that the driver is intoxicated and asks them to step out of the vehicle.
You’ll probably be Arrested on the Spot for DWI
At this point the situation is getting real. If you’ve never been arrested for a criminal offense in Houston, TX before, then you’re properly asking yourself a common question; “What happens next?” Once the suspected drunk driver is handcuffed and thrown into the back of the squad car the situation begins to clearly explain itself. You are in route to the Harris County jail. Once this happens, there are a few steps you’ll need to take in order to address the matter in line with best practices.
Getting Out of the Harris County Jail
Obviously, the Harris County jail isn’t some form of weekend resort where people want to be, so bonding out by using the services of a licensed bondsman will be a first step, granted that you can make it to the phones in the holding tank. Once you’ve placed a phone call to the free world, and arranged for someone to post bond on your behalf, you can expect to be released from captivity within 6 to 12 hours, or however long it takes the jail staff, that’s responsible for processing inmates in the Harris County jail, to get their jobs done.
Worse Practices When Facing DWI Charges in Houston
Once you’ve posted bond, and taken that well needed shower, you should now embark on the process of searching for a Houston DWI attorney if you are smart.
- The absolute worst thing you can do, when you are a defendant in a DWI case, is to show up in court without an attorney. This is especially true if you’ve committed a felony DWI like intoxication manslaughter.
- The second worst thing you can do is to attempt to strike some kind of deal with the prosecution. That would be a stupid act as the prosecution serves absolutely no interest of yours.
- The third worst thing you can do is attempt to represent yourself as your own attorney because you will have an inexperienced attorney that’s representing a foolish client. You’ve heard the saying.
The Legal System: A Living Hell
One thing is for sure, the government will do everything in it’s power to make your life a living hell and that particular process starts the second you are suspected of drunk driving. Long before you are given an opportunity to take advantage of your day in court your Texas Drivers License will be suspended. This is further reason to seek out a qualified DWI attorney in Houston so you can start the damage control process immediately. Rather than facing a full and immediate suspension of your Texas Drivers License, an attorney like Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A. Nelson may be able to petition the court so that you may, at least, be able to obtain an occupational license. If successful, you’ll be allowed to lawfully commute to and from work in lieu of the finalization of your case. This shady state sanctioned (and executed) process of punishing you before you’re found guilty is known as Administrative License Revocation or ALR for short.
ALR: Losing Your Driving Privileges
Like I said, the State of Texas will immediately begin taking steps that will make your life a living hell. I guess it’s safe to say that the state of Texas is short on the presumption of innocence and long on immediate retribution. This stance was probably somehow justified by the public safety “theology” which is used over and over again as an excuse to trample on the Constitutional Rights of Americans without bothering to wipe one’s oppressive feet on the doormat. According to “them”, driving is a privilege. To that I ask, “Well who gave it and who can take it away?” The Godlike State. But I digress.
Criminal Penalties for DWI in Texas
Moving along, a conviction for drunk driving in Texas can lead to a number of different penalties depending on the circumstances associated with the occurrence.
First Time Drunk Driving Offenses
For example, a first offense DWI is treated as a misdemeanor so long as no one was injured, killed, or had to experience property damage as a result of a motorist driving while intoxicated in Houston and crashing. If a person is convicted for DWI the judge may issue a fine of up to $2000. Some jail time will be required which can last from three days to six months. In most cases the defendant is given credit for time served which will generally amount to two or three days. This time is accumulated from the time the defendant was arrested until the time they were released or bonded out. Also worth mentioning, the defendant may be given a credit of two days for each one day of time served. To make a long story short, you’ll probably go to court and be assessed a fine on a first offense drunk driving case where you are found guilty. Your Texas Drivers License will also be suspended for a period ranging from 90 days to 12 months. However, a savvy Texas DWI defense attorney should be able to positively affect that particular penalty. Like I said earlier, it is possible to obtain an occupational license so that you can continue to handle the business of life without a threat of being instantly arrested for Driving With a Suspended License.
Second Offense Drunk Driving Cases
A second DWI offense is treated in almost the same way, but the penalties are fairly more aggressive in their unforgiving nature. For starters, the fine ratchets up to a potential $4000 with a jail sentence that could last at least a month, depending on the judge. The potential jail sentence maxes out at one year. Even though a misdemeanor offense, it can ruin or throw a potent curveball through your life. If and when your Texas Drivers License is suspended it will be for minimum period of six months and can last for up to two years. This can be a real pain in the ass if you live in Houston, TX as you know we rely on our personal vehicles as a main way to move goods and services, first and foremost. It’s double trouble if you’re a truck driver or have to operate a motor vehicle on public roadways to make a living.
Habitual & 3-Time DWI Offenders
The stakes are raised when a motorist is arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated a third time. Depending on the frequency and time period between previous drunk driving convictions, a defendant can be hit with a felony. A felony charge for any form of criminal offense in Texas is serious business, and the same is true when it comes to DWI. If you’re convicted in court of a felony DWI the potential fine soars to a maximum of $10,000 which is accompanied by a prison sentencing guideline which allows a judge and jury to sentence the convicted to a jail term that can last from a period of two years on up to 10 years. As you can see, the State of Texas doesn’t play games with habitual drunk drivers. Then to top it off, once you serve your time you’ll still have to deal with the mandatory suspension of your Texas Drivers License for a period that can last up to two years. 10 years is a long time to stay in prison for a third drunk driving offense. Then on top of that, two years with your driving privileges revoked can feel like an eternity.
Felony or Misdemeanor?
Third offense DWI cases don’t necessarily have to result in a felony criminal classification. If you’re working with an experienced DWI attorney in Houston, and there was a sizable length of time since your previous drunk driving conviction, it may be possible to have your criminal charges reduced to a misdemeanor.
The Evidence: Blood, Piss, and Breathing
A good DWI defense attorney will be able to defend you regardless of whether or not you refused a breath test or a blood draw. Even if the arresting police officers secured blood or urine from you, it doesn’t guarantee that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office will be able to secure a conviction from a jury.
If you’re being represented by Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A. Nelson, or another equally qualified DWI defense attorney in Houston, they’ll likely advise you to allow them to take advantage of the 15 days that you will have to challenge the automatic suspension of your Texas Drivers License. If you’re facing such a plight, seeking consultation with Tad, or another litigation professional, is your best option.
If you felt that you were not intoxicated, or that you were treated unfairly by the police officers on the scene, this should be among the topics of discussion with your attorney during your consultation. Sometimes the police can make the person that was suspected of drunk driving feel taken advantage of or that they were unfairly arrested. If you were wrongfully arrested this should be something that you point out and make clear to your attorney.
Helping The Police Gather Evidence Isn’t Good for You
This is one of the main reasons that some of the more seasoned DUI and DWI defense specialists advocate and outright refusal to participate in field sobriety test. The smarter minds that make up the DUI defense Bar consider this action as being nothing more than a way for the accused to foolishly volunteer evidence to the police by manufacturing it in real-time. This is a common mistake among people that become loquacious with police officers during routine traffic stops. You should never be volunteering information to law enforcement authorities because the only reason that it is being collected is so that they can use it against you. From the streets to the boardroom, talking to police is never recommended. The more you talk to police the harder of a job you’re putting on the shoulders of your legal counsel. This is a bad practice that must be avoided at all cost.
Intoxication Manslaughter: Death by DWI
In DWI/intoxication manslaughter cases the gravity of the predicament is a matter of major import. These cases can be won. In fact, Jack B. Carroll is another well-known criminal defense lawyer in Houston that was the first attorney in Texas to get positive results during a double intoxication manslaughter trial. We mentioned Tad A. Nelson earlier, he actually won a case where the defendant was facing a life sentence for an 8th DWI offense. If you live in Texas then you know it’s not uncommon for the State of Texas to sentence habitual DWI offenders to life in prison. Yes, life in prison.
Finding the Best Attorney For Your Situation
When looking for criminal defense attorney to represent you on a driving while intoxicated related criminal charge it’s best to make sure that they have experience defending people accused of crimes like yours. It does you no good to campaign against charges filed against you without the right team. An immigration lawyer or a criminal appellate lawyer probably wouldn’t know the first thing about mounting an effective defense against criminal charges that are scientific in nature like that of DWI related legal infractions. Do your research!
Doing Due Diligence Pays Dues
During these days known as the information age you can probably visit an attorney’s website to get an idea on whether or not they specialize in cases relative to your situation. With the power of the internets you can research information and mentions of any attorney that you may be considering as a litigator for your case. By adding such a smart method to your vetting process you would be far more likely to make the best decision regarding which attorney to team up with than if you hadn’t.
The decision of which law firm or attorney to hire is a serious decision.
Making the wrong decision can have lifelong consequences that you may not be prepared to deal with, but may be forced to deal with anyway. And I’m just referring to people that are guilty.
If you are innocent of the criminal charges against you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, then the stakes are drastically raised because there is no guarantee that you will win in court.
This makes choosing the right attorney a choice that you may not have the luxury of making a mistake with. Sometimes agreeing to probation and deferred adjudication is a good idea, but if you’re innocent you’re innocent, and you should fight. There are a number of problems with the integrity of some forms evidence used within the criminal justice system, if Judge Alex Kozinski, (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) has anything to say about it, which only serves to exacerbate the situation.
If your freedom is on the line, or if you believe that you need legal advice, take your time when choosing an attorney to represent you and be sure to employ some of the best practices that we’ve outlined for you.