Starting this month (September 2011), every Houston DWI Attorney has started receiving their first “Extreme” DWI cases. The new “Extreme DWI” law went into effect this month, and changes the charge from a class B misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor for all first time DWI offenders who have a blood alcohol level of .15 or more.
Before this change, any first time DWI was a class B misdemeanor which carries a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail and/or a $2000 fine. A class A misdemeanor on the other hand is punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail and/or a $4000 fine. So this law essentially doubles the possible punishment for a first time DWI.
I think that any DWI lawyer in Houston would agree that this doesn’t make much sense. What is the purpose of the new law? To punish? To keep people from driving drunk? Why .15 and not .149?
First of all, most people who are drinking are not going to be thinking about their blood level. If they are going to drive, they are going to drive. So this law isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about getting behind the wheel. Chances are, 99% of drunk drivers are not going to have a clue this law even exists.
If this was meant to “punish”, then we will just have to see exactly what the state plans to do with these cases before we know if that makes any sense. One thing this law does do is give individuals accused of DWI another reason to refuse a breath test. I think officers should have to explain this to everyone before they offer a breath test. The conversation should go something like this:
Officer: “I am requesting a specimen of your breath. If you refuse you are going to be charged with a class b misdemeanor punishable up to 6 months in jail. If you take the breath test and blow over .15 then you are going to be charged with a class a misdemeanor and you can get up to 1 year in jail. Either way, you are not going home…at least until someone posts your bond.”
Arrestee: “I refuse!!!”
Yeah, wishful thinking! Bottom line is, the law is in effect and you have to be aware of it and the consequences that surround it. Make sure to hire a Houston DWI Attorney who is willing to work hard for you.