Being stopped and arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Houston can be an extremely anxiety-inducing experience. If you do not have a prior criminal record and you have not been stopped before on suspicion of drunk driving or a DWI, you may not be sure about the steps you need to take in order to beat these charges, and what you can do to put yourself in the best position to avoid a conviction. If you are thinking that a judge will go easy on you because you are facing a first offense, it is critical to know that even first-time DWI offenses in Texas are treated extremely seriously. Indeed, you can face months of jail time in addition to having a criminal record.
If you are facing a first-time DWI offense in Houston, the following are some key things you should know.
DWI First Offenses Are Misdemeanors That Result in a Criminal Record Upon Conviction
If you are charged with and convicted of a DWI first offense, you will have a misdemeanor criminal conviction on your record. Under Texas law, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit at 0.08 percent or higher but under 0.15, you will face penalties for a Class B misdemeanor. The maximum fine for a Class B misdemeanor is $2,000, and you can also be sentenced to up to 180 days (or six months) in jail. The charges will be more severe if you have a BAC of 0.15 or higher. In such cases, you will face penalties for a Class A misdemeanor—the most serious misdemeanor classification—even for a first offense. Penalties for a Class A misdemeanor include a maximum fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail.
In addition to the fines associated with the conviction, you can also face a “state fine of $3,000, $4,500, or $6,000 upon sentencing,” according to the Texas DOT.
You’ll Face Mandatory License Suspension
Even for a DWI first offense in Houston or elsewhere in Texas, you will face a mandatory suspension of your driver’s license for one year. To be clear, you will be without your driver’s license for one year upon conviction, and this is a mandatory punishment for a DWI.
You Can Face Additional Charges in Certain Situations
Depending upon the facts surrounding your arrest, you could face additional charges if you are charged with drunk driving with a child passenger in the car, driving with an open container, or a DWI that results in an accident in which anyone gets hurt.
Refusing a Breathalyzer Test Has Consequences
While you might think it is in your best interest to refuse a breathalyzer test, especially if you have never faced DWI charges before, you should know that refusing a breathalyzer test can result in serious consequences. You can face an automatic driver’s license suspension for 180 days, and you could still be charged with a DWI even if law enforcement does not have a BAC reading. You should speak with a Houston DWI defense attorney about the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer and how it can affect a DWI defense
Contact Our Houston DWI Defense Attorneys
Do you need assistance developing a defense to first-time DWI charges in Texas? Our Houston DWI defense lawyers can help. Contact Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A. Nelson today.