Charged with driving while intoxicated in Houston, Texas? You may be able to get the DWI charges reduced to a lesser offense with fewer consequences, but you should speak to a defense lawyer to discuss the unique details of your case first. A conviction can have serious personal and financial consequences even if it’s your first DWI offense. For example, fines for a first offense can be as high as $2,000, a jail sentence between 3 and 180 days, a loss of one’s driver’s license up to a year, and an annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for 3 years to retain one’s driver’s license. Because of the severe punishment possible from a DWI conviction, it benefits you personally and financially to take any steps necessary to reduce DWI charges (and consequently the possible fines and penalties.
How Can a DWI Charge Get Reduced in Texas?
Unlike many other states that have anti-plea bargaining laws for impaired driving offenses, Texas allows prosecutors to offer reduced charges eligible for deferred adjudication to those charged with DWI in some cases. A defense attorney can fight to negotiate a lower charge like reckless driving or Obstruction of a Passageway or Roadway. Getting a DWI charge reduced means having the severity of the charges lowered to a lower crime class. Oftentimes this means that the possible fines, jail time, and other restrictions will be far more lenient. Examples of reducing a DWI charge include:
- Getting a Felony DWI Reduced to a Misdemeanor like Obstruction of a Highway or Obstruction of a Passageway
- Reducing DWI Charges to Reckless Driving
- Filing a Pretrial Motion to Remove Illegally Obtained BAC Evidence
- Seeking Deferred Adjudication for Underage DUI
- Having Your Attorney Negotiate a Plea Bargain for a Less Charge Like Reckless Driving
- Getting the Case Dismissed
- Getting a “No Bill” Return at the Indictment Hearing (state drops the case)
If you would like to pursue any of these avenues to reduce the severity of charges against you, we highly recommend hiring an experienced DWI lawyer to represent you in Court.
Underage DWI Reductions
The ability to reduce a DWI charge or penalty depends on whether the individual charged is a minor. For a minor charged with possession of alcohol while driving, the minor is required to take a mandatory-alcohol awareness and defensive driving course. This course can help reduce the juvenile’s DUI charges, penalties, or both.
DWI vs Obstruction of a Highway
Obstruction of a Highway is a common charge offered in plea bargaining by prosecutors, to reduce the offense to a crime class eligible for deferred adjudication. offered in Texas. In some DUI or DWI cases the prosecutor offers the defendant a plea deal, asking them to enter a no contest plea to a lesser charge such as Obstruction of a Highway or Obstruction of a Passageway. Some prosecutors offer to reduce defendants’ charges from DWI or DUI to reckless driving. However, reckless driving charges still carry more punishment and restrictions than highway obstruction convictions.
Both Obstruction of a Highway and Passageway are misdemeanor charges that have far fewer consequences than a DWI and are worth considering.
Difference Between DWI and Obstruction of Highway Penalties Under Texas Law
- Obstruction of a Highway can be expunged from your Texas criminal record.
- An Obstruction of Highway conviction can usually be sealed from your criminal record via a motion fo nondisclosure.
- Unlike a DWI, there is no driver’s license surcharge or SR22 insurance requirement for an Obstruction conviction.
- A DWI conviction stays on your Texas driver’s license and DPS record forever, but Obstruction of Highway does not.
Reducing Drunk Driving Charges Against Adults
Unlike underage DWI cases, adults charged with a DWI are not required to take a defensive driving course, but may be ordered to do so as part of a conviction. Often, this course is ordered as a condition of probation.
Importantly, Texas does not offer deferred adjudication for adult drivers charged with DWIs. Deferred adjudication permits drivers charged with a DWI to receive only a probation without conviction.
For an adult charged with a DWI, typically the only way to reduce a DWI charge is to take a plea bargain with the state for a lesser charge, such as reckless driving. Whether or not the state offers a plea bargain will depend on a variety of factors, such as whether the person charged has prior convictions or whether anyone was injured.
However, in some cases the jury may return a “No Bill” at the indictment hearing because they don’t think there is enough evidence for the case to be prosecuted if it goes to trial. It is also sometimes possible to have irrelevant evidence that could sway the jury thrown out. If there is no case without the evidence, which could be the case in situations where the blood sample was improperly stored or taken, then the judge might decide to drop the charges against you altogether. All of these variables require a lawyer for reducing the charges.
Contact our Attorneys to Fight for a Reduction of the Charges You’re Facing
If you have questions about reducing DWI charges and penalties in Texas, our team of criminal defense attorneys can help you. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free case evaluation by calling (713) 422-2270 or by scheduling an appointment online.