Many people are familiar with the term DUI, or driving under the influence. In Texas, however, they prefer the term DWI, or driving while intoxicated. Still, the terms are still used somewhat interchangeably. In Texas, the penalties for even a first time DWI can be serious.
These first-time penalties can include 3 days to 6 months in jail. The jail time can be increased with excessive BAC levels of .15% or more. Fines can range from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on BAC and do not include fees or paying an attorney to represent a person. Finally, a person’s license can be suspended for anywhere from 90 days to 1 year.
That doesn’t seem to stop people from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, particularly in Houston, which has more drunk and drugged driving offenses than any other area in Texas.
The nine-county region that comprises the Houston area tallied more fatal drunken driving collisions during the last 16 years than any other metropolitan area in the country. Another number that brings this startling statistic into focus is that there were more than 3,000 fatal wrecks caused by drugged or drunken drivers. Los Angeles, with roughly the same population, had only approximately 2,000.
The only area in Texas that comes even remotely close to these 3,000 drugged and drunken accident figures is the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, with 2,425 crashes attributed to driving while intoxicated.
Even more startling is that when fatalities are taken out of the equation, Houston still reports about 5,000 impaired driving accidents annually. This number amounts to roughly to 14 per day, or more than one accident every two hours.
Elsewhere in Texas, however, DWI convictions can result in a life sentence in prison. For one Galveston County man, being found passed out behind the wheel with the vehicle running may see him spending 25 to 99 years in prison.
Officers found Lonnie Gene Kinnett behind the wheel of his SUV in the parking lot of Gator Jacks bar with the vehicle running. Several green beer bottles littered the interior of his SUV. His blood-alcohol content was .134%. Kinnett has multiple DWI convictions on his record, as well as convictions for other offenses.
Many people ask the question, “Can I appeal a DWI in Texas?” Randall Isenberg, attorney and founder of Randall Isenberg, says, “Absolutely. Anyone convicted of a criminal offense has the right to appeal their conviction.”
When considering an appeal, one might not want to try and argue that drunk driving laws unfairly target alcoholics. In February, a Texas Court of Appeals rejected the appeal of a San Antonio man’s DWI conviction. Ralph Alfred Friesenhahn was attempting to appeal his 4th conviction by saying that Texas DWI laws unfairly target alcoholics, denying them equal protection under the law.
Those convicted of DUI have the right to appeal. Generally, in Texas, the appeal must be filed within 30 days of the conviction. As always, it is important to consult an experienced Texas DWI attorney about DWI charges as soon as possible after an arrest.