DWI Reduction of Charges
While every criminal case has the potential to go to trial, very few cases ever actually reach that point. When criminal defense attorneys are unable to get charges dismissed, many cases are frequently resolved through plea bargain agreements.
Plea bargains are possible in driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases in which prosecutors may have legitimate concerns about the chances of obtaining convictions. If an alleged offender agrees to plead guilty to resolve a DWI case, it will usually involve entering a guilty plea to some kind of reduced charge such as reckless driving, obstructing a highway or other passageway, or some other lesser offense.
Lawyer for Reduction of DWI Charges in Houston, TX
Were you recently arrested for drunk driving in the greater Harris County area? You will want to immediately contact Horak Law for help possibly getting the criminal charges reduced to a lesser offense.
Matt Horak is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston who aggressively defends clients in The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Galveston, Pasadena, Conroe, Richmond-Rosenberg, Pearland, Spring, League City, Missouri City, and many other nearby communities. Call our firm locally at (713) 225-8000 to receive a consultation that will let out lawyer review your case and help you understand all of your legal options.
Harris County Reduced DWI Charges Information Center
- When might prosecutors be willing to reduce DWI charges?
- What are the differences between being convicted of DWI and pleading guilty to a lesser charge?
- Where can I learn more about DWI conviction rates in Texas?
Reasons DWI Charges Get Reduced in Texas
Prosecutors in Texas are usually reluctant to reduce DWI charges, and some jurisdictions may even have policies specifically forbidding any reduction in DWI charges. Despite the initial reservations, prosecutors also take great pride in their conviction rates and may be more willing to reclassify DWI offenses when it appears that there is a substantial likelihood that they will lose their cases.
In order for a person to be convicted of DWI in Texas, a prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an alleged offender was intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Texas Penal Code Section § 49.01(2) defines intoxicated as meaning:
- not having the normal use of mental or 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
- having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
When a DWI arrest involves particular evidentiary issues or improper police actions, a defense attorney will typically attempt to get the court to dismiss the charges. A prosecutor may be more willing to consider a reduction in DWI charges when a case involves such issues as:
- Blood or breath test was less than 0.08;
- Breath test machine was not properly calibrated;
- DWI arrested stemmed from illegal traffic stop;
- Improperly administered field sobriety tests;
- No blood or breath test sample;
- Past disciplinary issues with arresting officers; or
- Video evidence contradicts police report or otherwise does not support allegation that alleged offender was intoxicated.
It is important to remember that only the prosecutor has the ability to amend or re-file DWI charges.
Reduced DWI Penalties in Houston
A first DWI offense is typically classified as a Class B misdemeanor in Texas, although an offense can become a Class A misdemeanor if an alleged offender had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher. When a prosecutor is willing to reduce a DWI charge, an alleged offender will typically be asked to plead guilty to reckless driving.
Reckless driving is an unclassified misdemeanor in Texas. A prosecutor may also negotiate a guilty plea for obstructing a highway or other passageway, which is also a Class B misdemeanor. While all of these crimes are considered misdemeanors, there are significant differences in the extent of the penalties that come with convictions for these charges.
A person who is convicted of DWI for the first time can face any combination of the following penalties:
- Up to 180 days in jail;
- A fine up to $2,000;
- Up to one year suspension of driver’s license;
- Annual Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver Responsibility Surcharges of up to $2,000 for three years;
- Installation of an ignition interlock device;
- Up to 200 hours of community service;
- Completion of an approved alcohol or drug education program; and/or
- DWI school.
Reckless driving convictions, on the other hand, can result in up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $200. Obstructing a highway or other passageway convictions are still punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Pleading guilty to a lesser offense will typically allow an alleged offender to face far fewer immediate sanctions and long-term consequences that would ordinarily result from a DWI conviction. Furthermore, a person who pleads guilty to a different offense may be able to seal the criminal record of the DWI arrest—something that is not possible if an alleged offender is convicted of drunk driving.
Harris County DWI Reduction of Charges Resources
Annual Statistical Report for the Texas Judiciary Fiscal Year 2015 — The Office of Court Administration (OCA) operates under the direction and supervision of the Supreme Court of Texas and the Chief Justice. The OCA produces an Annual Statistical Report, and this latest report details statistics from courts throughout the Lone Star State for 2015. You can learn more about DWI case statistics in Texas, including new cases filed, convictions, and dismissals.
Criminal History Records | Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) — Visit this section of the DPS website to learn more about expunging or sealing criminal records in Texas. When a person originally charged with DWI pleads guilty to a reduced offense such as reckless driving or obstructing a highway, the alleged offender may be able to have the record of the DWI arrest sealed through an order of nondisclosure. Learn more about how orders of nondisclosure work as well as the sealing of juvenile records.
Horak Law | Houston Reduced DWI Charges Lawyer
If you were arrested for an alleged DWI offense in Harris County or a surrounding area of southeast Texas, do not assume that a conviction is automatic. It is in your best interest to contact Horak Law for help fighting to possibly get the criminal charges reduced.
Houston criminal defense attorney Matt Horak represents clients all over Harris County as well as communities in Montgomery County, Waller County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, and Liberty County. You can have our lawyer provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call our firm locally at (713) 225-8000 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a confidential consultation.