An arrest for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) (or the less common offenses of Boating While Intoxicated or Flying While Intoxicated) will expose a defendant to a punishment range that depends primarily on how many prior DWI convictions he or she has. No prior convictions means the case will usually be a Class B misdemeanor; one prior conviction usually makes it a Class A misdemeanor. Two or more prior convictions, or other special circumstances, and the case will land in felony court.
So in a typical DWI case, the punishment range has nothing to do with the facts relating to the defendant becoming intoxicated and driving on public roads. The State still must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person drove a motor vehicle while intoxicated. “Intoxication” under Texas law, means any one of these three things:
(1) A person does not have the normal use of his or her mental faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body;
(2) A person does not have the normal use of his or her physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or
(3) A person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, 100 milliliters of blood, or 67 milliliters of urine.
Any DWI offense where there is a child under age 15 in the vehicle starts as a state jail felony carrying a punishment range of 6 months to 2 years in state jail.
More serious DWI offenses include Intoxication Assault, which is usually a third-degree felony carrying a punishment range of 2-10 years in prison, and Intoxication Manslaughter, which is usually a second-degree felony carrying a punishment range of 2-20 years in prison. Both these offenses will be upgraded to the next-higher degree of felony if the person injured or killed is a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency services personnel while in the actual discharge of their official duties.
All offenses involving intoxicated driving often involve scientific evidence such as blood chemistry analysis, and can be highly technical and difficult for an unskilled defense lawyer. I have handled hundreds of DWI cases both as a prosecutor and defender and am experienced and successful at presenting these cases to juries in a way that holds the State to their very high burden of proof.
If you or a family member have been charged with a DWI offense, I can help you. Call me or email me directly from this page. Your initial consultation will be free of charge.