Criminal defense lawyers in Houston and all over Texas have been bracing for the new “Extreme” DWI law, which took effect last Thursday. That law doubles the penalties for first-time DWI offenders who have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher.
Up until now, the maximum penalty for most first time DWIs was 180 days in jail, a $2000 fine, or both. Now, drivers charged with Extreme DWI will face up to 360 days in jail and a $4000 fine or both.
We question whether this new law will have any impact on the number of intoxicated drivers on our roads. Does this new law provide a real disincentive to intoxicated drivers over what current laws already provide? Probably not. Was our previous DWI law (which did not provide for greater punishments for DWI suspects with BACs over 0.08) sufficient to punish first time offenders? Absolutely.
In any event, this new law highlights the need to hire an aggressive, experienced DWI attorney to defend you if you are charged with DWI in Houston or anywhere in Texas. The combination of faulty science, No-Refusal weekends, and increased penalties for DWI have created a situation where innocent people could be punished.