Houston DWI Lawyer


What Are DWI Surcharges In Texas?

DWI

Texas DWI Surcharge

A common question I get as a Houston DWI Attorney is, what are surcharges and will I owe any? In Texas surcharges were established as part of the The Driver Responsibility Program which is governed by Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 708, which set up a system to assess surcharges based on certain traffic offenses that have occurred on or after September 1, 2003.

A surcharge is an administrative fee that is charged to a driver based on the convictions reported to the driver record. There are two criteria that determine if a surcharge will be assessed, they are the point system (bases on the number of traffic violations) and Conviction Based surcharges (which include DWI convictions.)

It is important to note that surcharges are in addition to all other reinstatement fees required for other administrative actions and do not replace any administrative suspension, revocation, disqualification or cancellation action that results from these same convictions. The bottom line is the State uses DWI to raise money and will get yours if you are convicted and care to ever get you license back.

Drivers convicted of DWI face the following surcharges.

  • For a first time DWI conviction the surcharge is $1,0000 for 3 years.
  • A subsequent conviction is $1,500 for 3 years.
  • A DWI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 is $2,000 for 3 years.

An arrest for DWI is an expensive proposition. A conviction for a DWI is even more expensive. If you or someone you know is need of a Houston DWI Lawyer, call Texas Board Certified Attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

Texas DWI Surcharge | Madrid Criminal Law

Houston DWI Lawyer Mario Madrid on Drunk Driving Charges

DWI | Video Q & A

In this video, Houston criminal defense attorney Mario Madrid takes time to discuss the common circumstances related to criminal DWI charges. He also discusses his experience getting DWI cases dismissed in court, and some of the effects of DWI arrests on the accused, and society.

If you find yourself under the pressure of an upcoming court date related to a Houston DWI criminal charge, call defense lawyer Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400 to schedule an immediate meeting at his downtown Houston office to review your case.

Facing DUI Charges? Avoid these Common Mistakes

Guest Posts

CONTRIBUTED BY:  David Haenel, Esq.

David Haenel, Esq. of Finebloom & Haenel has extensive experience litigating DUI cases and defending the rights of clients involved in cases dealing with license suspension, DUI, criminal traffic offenses and more.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended as legal advice and does not reflect the opinions of Madrid Law. 

A DUI arrest is an undesirable situation for any person. However, the outcome of a DUI arrest can be largely dependent on how a person handles the particular situation. There are a number of ways that a case can become worse through a wrong move or a mistake. People facing a DUI arrest should avoid the following actions whenever possible in order to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse.

Taking the arrest or charge lightly

A DUI charge may come with serious consequences such as losing a driver’s license or even receiving jail time. Some people believe that in cases where no one was injured and no property was damaged, the case was not a big deal and they’ll be able to talk their way out of the situation. This is never a good strategy.

Not hiring the proper DUI attorney

The layman will struggle to understand the law behind a DUI charge in the short amount of time that takes place in between the offense and the court date. People may be tempted to hire an attorney because of his low fees. However, there are a number of factors that they should take into consideration before thinking about the fees involved, including accessibility, competence, rapport, experience, and general interest in the case at hand.

Not hiring an attorney in a timely manner

Waiting to hire an attorney at the last minute can be just as detrimental to the outcome of a DUI arrest as not hiring the right attorney. Many people put off this task with the assumption that they’ll be able to hire someone at the last minute. It is important for a person to hire a good attorney right away in order to assure that the attorney is thoroughly prepared for the case.

Driving with a suspended license

One of the most immediate consequences that can come with a DUI arrest is a driver’s license suspension. Typically a person has 15 days following an arrest to initiate a hearing to contest the automatic suspension.

Not maximizing constitutional rights

This situation most often occurs when people do not hire a lawyer. Most people are familiar with some of their constitutional rights, but do not have all of the details they need to handle a DUI arrest properly. A lawyer is able to investigate any serious violation of rights that may have taken place during, and immediately following, an arrest.

Not showing up in court

When a person does not show up in court after a DUI charge, the court may decide to revoke their bond and put out a warrant for their arrest.

Sharing details with family and friends not involved in the case

As other people may be asked to be witnesses against someone in court, it is important that anyone facing charges should not share any information with anyone but their lawyer.

Following these tips can help a person with a DUI arrest keep a bad situation from becoming even worse.

What is the Open Container Law?

Criminal Defense | DWI

The open container law is a legal provision that is designed to ensure the safety of the public. It can be brought into effect in a variety of circumstances that involve the consumption or possession of alcohol. Many people may think that the open container law applies only when someone is being arrested for a criminal offense of driving while intoxicated. However, the open container law can also apply to the consumption of alcohol by people in a public place or while on the grounds of certain institutions.

Why is the Open Container Law Needed?

Open container laws were put into effect in order to accomplish several specific purposes. First and foremost, open container laws are used with the safety of the general public in mind. The consumption of alcohol in a public place can have many negative effects, including dangerous behavior, fighting, criminal activities or vandalism. In this regard, open container laws seek to curb public drunkenness before it can cause such negative behaviors.

Also, open container laws apply when someone is in possession of an alcoholic beverage while operating or riding in a motor vehicle. This is done with the aim of preventing the intoxicated operation of motor vehicles on public highways, which is one of the most dangerous criminal activities in the nation. Also, intoxicated drivers are more likely to engage in violent confrontation with other drivers in the event of a vehicle collision or accident.

Open container laws are also used to ensure that a state continues to receive subsidies for transportation from the federal government. In any state that does not have an open container law on the books, the federal government can immediately rescind any subsidies that are earmarked for the cost of transportation expenses in that state. This is a very serious matter because these federal subsidies cover a great deal of the cost of highway construction and road maintenance in the state.

What Places are Exempt From the Open Container Law?

Some states and municipalities allow the possession of an open container of alcohol in specific areas and at specific times. At present, seven states do not have open container laws that apply to the consumption of alcohol in public. In Louisiana, for example, New Orleans does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol on public sidewalks and streets, but the city does prohibit such consumption in parking lots or from glass containers. Las Vegas also allows the public consumption of alcohol on certain holidays. It should be noted that, while these locations allow public consumption, they strictly enforce laws that prosecute offenses caused by drunkenness, such as disorderly conduct or engaging in argumentative disputes with law enforcement officers.

For additional information on open container laws in the state of Texas, set up an appointment with Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

What is a Field Sobriety Test?

Criminal Defense | DWI

All too often, a hardworking man or woman chooses to unwind after a long work week by going out for a few drinks, only to be pulled over by law enforcement on their way home from a bar or club. The majority of people will call a taxi cab or ask a designated driver to give them a ride; anyone who does not may be stopped and randomly tested for sobriety. A person who fails a sobriety test may face several long-lasting consequences.

A law enforcement officer may order a vehicle to stop at a sobriety checkpoint or roadblock to investigate the driver for a variety of violations. An officer will often request a driver to pull over for questioning if he drives in a manner that indicates he may be driving while intoxicated. This includes behaviors like weaving in and out of designated driving lanes or crossing the center line in a road.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

A police officer administers a field sobriety test to anyone whom he suspects of driving under the influence of alcohol. The following are the three most common field sobriety tests that were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • One-leg stand (OLS) test: A driver is required to stand in place with his arms down while he holds one foot a few inches off the ground. If he fails to do so, it may be an indication that he is intoxicated.
  • Walk-and-turn (WAT) test: A driver is asked to walk in a straight line while he places one foot directly in front of the other. By not retaining his balance, a suspect may be arrested for driving while intoxicated.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test: A police officer asks a driver to follow a moving object with his eyes. If the suspect’s eyes bounce, it may be an indication that his blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the legal limit that is established by the government. It is possible for a person’s eye impairments to cause a false positive on this test.

Challenging the Evidence From Field Sobriety Tests

A skilled criminal defense attorney understands the defects of field sobriety tests and can identify some common errors that may occur:

  • A police officer initiated an unlawful traffic stop.
  • There is no baseline for comparing results.
  • The officer’s way of conducting the field sobriety tests was flawed.
  • The test results were inaccurate because of factors like the driver’s age and weight.

If you would like to get more information about field sobriety tests or traffic stops, schedule a free consultation with attorney Mario Madrid by calling 713-877-9400.

International Consequence of a DWI in Texas

DWI | Immigration

Having a criminal history, particularly a conviction for a DWI or DUI, can affect your travels to Canada. By having a conviction for either of these offenses, a person will become criminally inadmissible, and therefore, not allowed to enter Canada.

The Canadian Immigration Refugee Protection Act, in Section 36, lists the ways a foreign national can become criminally inadmissible into Canada. One of these ways in which a person may be refused admittance into Canada is if the individual has been convicted of an offense that has an equivalent offense in the Canadian Criminal Code.

The Texas Penal Code offense of Driving While Intoxicated is an offense that does have an equivalent offense in the Canadian Criminal Code, §253 “Operation While Impaired.” In addition, due to the Canadian offense of “Dangerous Operation of Motor Vehicles,” the problems with admissibility into Canada will remain even if someone charged with a DWI or DUI pleads guilty to a reduced charge.

There are avenues of relief for inadmissibility if an individual has been convicted of a DWI or DUI in Texas. One of these avenues is to argue against the equivalence of the Canadian and Texas offense.

An individual may also solve their admissibility problem by getting a Temporary Resident Permit. This can be done by showing a significant reason for the person to be in Canada. In addition, a person may find permanent relief from criminal inadmissibility by Criminal Rehabilitation. This permanent solution can only be done five years after all of the terms of the sentence have been completed.

Having a court date for an impending DWI charge is a serious matter. If you need to talk with an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney, contact us.

Consequences of Second DWI in Texas

DWI

The Texas Legislature has implemented strict laws for individuals charged with Driving While Intoxicated. Of course any crime comes with the possibility of jail time, but DWI laws have many other consequences. Among them are a possible license suspension, surcharges, a myriad of fees and an ignition breath device placed on your automobile.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of being charged with more than one DWI the consequences increase. An example of the difference in DWI charges from other crimes are the probation conditions. If someone has for example a second theft case or second possession of marijuana case and receives community supervision (what we commonly call probation) there will be no mandatory jail time attached to the probation. However  if a judge grants community supervision to a defendant convicted of a DWI 2nd the judge shall require as a condition of community supervision that the defendant submit to not less than 72 hours of continuous confinement in county jail. That is three full days in the county jail. The sheriff cannot grant two for one credit. In addition to the jail time spent,  the individual will face up to two years probation with all of the other onerous conditions. If the defendant has a second DWI within five years of the first DWI,  the judge granting community supervision to a defendant, shall require as a condition of community supervision that the defendant submit to not less than five days of confinement in county jail along with all of the other conditions.

Obviously the best way to avoid all of this is refrain from being put in the situation. However, if you find yourself in the this unfortunate predicament it is imperative to find an attorney with an extensive knowledge of DWI laws in Texas and is trained and experienced in defending Driving While Intoxicated cases.

If you are in need of a Houston DWI Lawyer, call Houston Board Certified Attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

Mandatory Blood Draw for DWI in Texas

DWI

Most people would agree that a forced blood draw from an individual is invasive and a violation of their civil rights. While we may all agree on this premise, under certain circumstances the State of Texas can strap you down and forcibly draw blood from you.

If you are stopped while driving and accused of DWI, you will be asked to submit to a breath test. If you refuse, your license may be suspended. If you blow over the legal limit of .08, your license may be suspended.

On what has come to be known as No Refusal Weekends, if the police obtain a search warrant from a judge it will not matter whether you refuse to submit to a breath test in a driving while intoxicated charge. The warrant allows the state to draw blood from you.

If you fall into certain categories (two prior DWIs and accidents where there are injuries to the parties)  listed in the Texas Transportation Code, the police do not need a warrant to obtain your blood. Under Texas in these circumstances the police law are given the authority draw your blood whether you consent or not.

The law is listed in the Texas Transportation Code Section 724.012 subsection b as follows:

Sec. 724.012.  TAKING OF SPECIMEN.

(b)  A peace officer shall require the taking of a specimen of the person’s breath or blood under any of the following circumstances if the officer arrests the person for an offense under Chapter 49, Penal Code, involving the operation of a motor vehicle or a watercraft and the person refuses the officer’s request to submit to the taking of a specimen voluntarily:

(1)  the person was the operator of a motor vehicle or a watercraft involved in an accident that the officer reasonably believes occurred as a result of the offense and, at the time of the arrest, the officer reasonably believes that as a direct result of the accident:

(A)  any individual has died or will die;

(B)  an individual other than the person has suffered serious bodily injury; or

(C)  an individual other than the person has suffered bodily injury and been transported to a hospital or other medical facility for medical treatment;

(2)  the offense for which the officer arrests the person is an offense under Section 49.045, Penal Code; or

(3)  at the time of the arrest, the officer possesses or receives reliable information from a credible source that the person:

(A)  has been previously convicted of or placed on community supervision for an offense under Section 49.045, 49.07, or 49.08, Penal Code, or an offense under the laws of another state containing elements substantially similar to the elements of an offense under those sections; or

(B)  on two or more occasions, has been previously convicted of or placed on community supervision for an offense under Section 49.04, 49.05, 49.06, or 49.065, Penal Code, or an offense under the laws of another state containing elements substantially similar to the elements of an offense under those sections.

(c)  The peace officer shall designate the type of specimen to be taken.

(d)  In this section, “bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury” have the meanings assigned by Section 1.07, Penal Code.

Just because your blood is drawn does not mean that you are guilty. The state always has the burden to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and it is likely that there is many issues to contest.

If you or someone you know is in need of a DWI Lawyer in Houston, call Houston DWI Attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

DIVERT’S Days Likely Numbered

DWI

Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos introduced the DIVERT Program in 2009 to address DWI cases in Harris County. The program which stands for Direct Intervention Using Voluntary Education, Restitution and Treatment, is essentially a pretrial diversion program and as such has been very controversial among prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys in Houston alike. The reason being that a DWI offense is not eligible for deferred adjudication and this program seems to get around the intent of the legislature.

However, the program has been beneficial to many charged with DWI who have completed the program and avoided a conviction. Those accepted into DIVERT are required to attend treatment as outlined in their recommendations, complete the DIVERT education classes designed to prevent driving under the influence,  have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicles for a minimum period of time,  and complete 16 hours of community service. If all conditions are met the DWI is dismissed.

In the recent Republican Primary this past Tuesday, Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos lost resoundingly to retired Harris County Judge Mike Anderson. Based on his comments on the campaign trail and the general feeling of members of the District Attorney’s Office it is widley believed that if elected Judge Anderson will not continue the program.

This does not mean that all hope is lost for those charged with DWI. They, like all accused are presumed innocent. They have all the same rights afforded the accused. If the State cannot make their case and a Houston DWI attorney convinces the prosecutor so, the case can be dismissed. Additionally there is always the right to a jury trial and possibility of an acquittal.

If you or someone you know is need of a Houston DWI Attorney, call Houston DWI Lawyer Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

Houston Man Charged With Murder In Connection With DWI Accident

DWI | Murder | Violent Crimes

A Houston Man has been charged with Murder after drunken driving crash in Houston that killed a woman’s unborn child according to this story. The man three prior DWI offenses. Additionally, he was convicted of Criminally Negligent Homicide and sentenced to 2 years in prison in a 2000 accident that also resulted in a child’s death.

The prior DWI conviction cases make the current case a Felony. The death of the unborn child coupled with the Felony DWI make the case what is called a Felony Murder. Man charged with murder in south Houston drunken driving death of unborn child

A Felony Murder is occurs when an individual commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt, he commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.

An offense of Felony Murder is a felony of the first degree punishable from 5 to 99 years in prison.

If you or someone you know is need of a Houston DWI Attorney or Houston Murder Lawyer, call Texas Board Certified Attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

0