Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Fort Bend County, Texas

An arrest for DWI can be a confusing and frightening experience that may carry serious consequences if you’re convicted. If you’ve been arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in the Fort Bend County area, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney regarding your case. Enlisting the aid of a qualified Fort Bend DWI attorney ensures that you get the legal representation you need to mount a strong defense against the charges.

What is Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Texas?

Texas law offers a generalized definition of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). According to Section 49.04 of the Texas code:

A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.

More specifically, intoxication refers to a person’s inability to function normally due to the influence of:

  • alcohol
  • controlled substances, such as prescription drugs
  • marijuana
  • Class A drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, heroine and ecstasy
  • any other substance that may impair cognitive or motor function

For DWI arrests stemming from alcohol use, a person is considered to be intoxicated if their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the legal limit. Under Texas law, current BAC limits are:

  • 0.08 or higher


How BAC is Measured: The Breathalyzer Test

If you’re arrested for DWI in Fort Bend County, law enforcement officials will attempt to test your BAC by administering a breathalyzer test. Taking a breathalyzer test involves breathing or blowing air into a machine, which then calculates an estimated measurement of your intoxication level. The breathalyzer test is considered to be a less accurate measure of BAC than a blood test.

In Texas, the breathalyzer machine used is called the Intoxilyzer 5000. This machine works by measuring the amount of alcohol contained in a beam of light that passes through the sample chamber. There are a number of factors that can cause the breathalyzer test to yield inaccurate results, including:

  • Air temperature
  • Body temperature
  • Your breathing pattern
  • Your hematocrit levels (Hematocrit is a measurement of your red blood cell count)
  • How the breathalyzer machine is calibrated
  • Increased ethanol levels in your stomach or esophagus due to acid reflux
  • The presence of certain compounds, such as acetone, which can be absorbed through your skin if you’ve been exposed to paint fumes, lacquer or other substances

Do I Have to Take a Breathalyzer Test?

Texas law operates under an implied consent policy, meaning that if you’re licensed to drive, you automatically consent to testing of your breath, blood or urine to identify the presence of drugs and/or alcohol. This does not mean, however, that you cannot choose to refuse a breath, blood or urine test but doing so can potentially have negative repercussions.

What Happens if I Refuse the Breathalyzer Test?

There are several things that can happen if you refuse a drug or alcohol test following a DWI arrest, including:

  • Suspension of your driver’s license for up to 180 days
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for up to 2 years if you refuse the test following a subsequent DWI arrest
  • Automatic 2-year suspension if you refuse the test and your license was suspended previously for failing a breath, blood or urine test

Refusing the test does not guarantee that your license will be suspended. A person has a right to request a hearing to challenge the possible forthcoming suspension of your drivers license. However, you only have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request this hearing. Your Fort Bend DWI attorney can request, and should request, this hearing to challenge the license suspension.

Should I Refuse the Breathalyzer Test?

Refusing the breathalyzer test may actually make it more difficult for prosecutors to prove that you were intoxicated at the time of your arrest. If you also refused to submit to a field sobriety test, there will likely not be enough evidence to win a DWI conviction against you.

What Are the Penalties for DWI in Texas?

The penalties for DWI in Texas depend on the individual circumstances of your case and your previous DWI arrest record. Your Fort Bend County DWI Lawyer can advise you regarding the specific penalties you may face if convicted of a DWI offense.

Generally, the penalties for DWI in Texas are as follows:

First Offense, Class B Misdemeanor

  • Fine - A fine not to exceed $2,000.
  • Jail Time - Confinement in the county jail for a minimum of 72 hours and a maximum of 6 months.
  • Community Service – Under Texas law, DWI offenders may receive no less than 24 and no more than 100 hours of community service.

Additional Stipulations:

First-time offenders may often face additional stipulations as part of their sentencing, including:

  • Drug and Alcohol Screening/Counseling – You may be required to participate in regular drug and/or alcohol testing or counseling sessions.
  • DWI Education – This course must be completed within 180 days of your DWI conviction.
  • Sustained Employment – You may be required to maintain steady employment and live at the same residence for a predetermined supervision period.

Second Offense or an alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, Class A Misdemeanor

If you’re arrested for a second DWI offense or an alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, Texas law requires you to install a lung air device on your vehicle as a condition of your release on bond. This device requires you to provide a breath sample before your vehicle will start.

  • Fine – A fine of up to $4,000.00.
  • Jail – A jail term of up to one year.
  • Community Service – A minimum of 80 and a maximum of 200 hours of community service.
  • License Suspension – Suspension of your license for a period of not less than 180 days and not more than 2 years.

Third Offense, Third degree Felony

  • Fine – A maximum fine of $10,000.00.
  • Jail – Confinement no less than 2 years and not in excess of 10 years.
  • Deep Lung Air Device
  • Community Service – You can receive no less than 160 hours and no more than 600 hours of community service.
  • License Suspension – Generally lasting between 180 days and 2 years.
  • Mandatory Drug/Alcohol Treatment

Texas law does not make any specific provision for DWI arrests beyond the third offense.

What Should I Do if I’m Arrested for a DWI in Fort Bend County?

If you’ve been arrested for DWI, you need to contract the legal services of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Don’t waste any time in contacting the law office of Lee D. Cox following your Fort Bend County DWI arrest.

Lee is experienced in defending clients charged with DWI offenses in the Fort Bend County area. He is dedicated to helping you prove your innocence, secure your freedom and help you to reestablish your reputation within the community. If the prosecution’s case is too strong, he will work hard to get you the minimum sentence possible.

The legal process following a DWI arrest can be confusing but you don’t have to navigate it alone. At the law office of Fort Bend County DWI attorney Lee D. Cox, we’re dedicated to protecting your rights and getting the results you need. Call us today at 281-762-7345 to set up an appointment for your free initial DWI case evaluation.

20+ Years of Experience in Criminal Defense

I began my career with the District Attorney's office and have been in private practice focusing on criminal defense in Fort Bend and surrounding counties since 2002.

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