When it comes to intoxicated driving defense cases, experience matters.

The best DWI defense strategy will help you avoid jail time.

On the way home from work, you stop by O’Malley’s to destress over a couple beers after a tough day. You haven’t eaten all day and they have your favorite high-grav beer on tap. After downing 2 beers, you check the time and realize you have to get home for dinner but feel a little inebriated. You briefly hesitate, but decide to drive anyway since it’s not a far drive and you only had a couple beers. But as you’re enjoying the view across the Galveston Channel, you suddenly see blue and red lights flashing in your rear-view mirror. In that moment, you panic and grip the steering wheel harder than you ever have before. What now?

About every 20 minutes in Texas, someone is hurt or killed in a crash involving alcohol. Local and state law enforcement officials know this, which is why they set up stings and checkpoints throughout Southeast Texas to catch drivers disobeying the law. Prosecutors and judges also know how common drunk driving is, which is why they come down harshly on intoxicated drivers and impose severe penalties, even to first-time offenders.

Our law office is located in Houston, Texas, just west of I-45 in the Houston Heights community. We regularly take cases from in and around Galveston County and throughout Southeast Texas, including:

  • Bayou Vista
  • Clear Lake Shores
  • Dickinson
  • Friendswood
  • Galveston
  • Hitchcock
  • Jamaica Beach
  • Kemah
  • La Marque
  • League City
  • Santa Fe
  • Texas City

Galveston PD and Galveston County sheriffs frequently set up sting operations and crack down especially hard on repeat DWI offenders and individuals caught driving drunk with a child in the car. The difficult thing about alcohol intoxication is that many different factors can affect impairment, including your body weight, size, gender, age, how quickly you’ve been drinking and how much food you ate beforehand. A small, younger woman may get intoxicated more quickly than a larger, older man.

If you or a loved one are facing a DWI charge in Galveston, it’s vital you take action immediately to hire a defense lawyer. Under Texas law, you only have 15 days to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing to prevent your license from being suspended.

At the Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp, we can protect your right to drive and start building a strong legal defense. Texas DWI defense attorney Matt Sharp understands that your reputation and freedom are at stake. He is often successful at having DWI charges reduced or dropped at trial for his clients. While we can’t ethically guarantee you a win, we can promise you the best defense possible. Contact us today to get started on your defense. The initial consultation is free.

From our Houston law office, we skillfully defend clients from communities across Southeast Texas. Visit our main office, located less than an hour from downtown Galveston just off I-45.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Galveston County or a surrounding area, start protecting your rights and future right now.

Take just a couple minutes to fill out the form below and schedule your free consultation with Matthew Sharp.

 

matt sharp

 

A Houston DWI arrest can be extremely frightening as it’s often the first encounter a person has with the criminal justice system. I will challenge your DWI and pick the state’s case apart piece-by-piece in order to protect your rights. There’s no way to guarantee a win, but I promise that you can’t win without a fight.

Attorney Matthew D. Sharp

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My results-driven approach means I can bring invaluable insights from past victories to help in your case.

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Legal Service: Criminal Defense
He Helped Me Change a Negative to a Positive

I brought Matt an almost no-win case and he was able to help me change a negative to a positive. His advice is solid and staight forward. I highly recommend The Law Office of Matthew Sharp.

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What happens if you’re charged with DWI in Galveston, TX?

Whether it’s your first run-in with the law or not, being pulled over for DWI is a terrifying experience. Knowing what to expect can help give you some peace of mind during this difficult process.

Arraignment and bail

Following your arrest, you will be given a notice of your arraignment, which will take place at the Galveston County Justice Center located at 600 59th St. During the arraignment, you’ll be able to enter a plea (guilty or not guilty), file motions and analyze possible defense strategies. You’ll also be able to ask the judge to appoint a public defender to represent you if you so desire, though this is not recommended since public defenders often have heavy caseloads and little time to devote to your case. Instead, you should consult a private criminal defense attorney near you.

The judge will set bail at the end of your arraignment, which is a sum of money you will have to give to ensure that you appear at all scheduled court dates. This deposit will be returned to you so long as you attend all court dates.

Traffic stop, sobriety test and arrest

If a Galveston police officer or sheriff pulls you over for driving while intoxicated, they will probably want to administer a field sobriety test. If you fail these basic physical and/or mental tasks, the officer will likely ask you to submit a breath, blood or urine test. If the test results show that your BAC is above the legal limit (.08 percent or higher), the officer can arrest you immediately.

All drivers in Galveston and throughout Texas are required to obey officer requests for blood, breath and urine tests under the state’s “implied consent” laws. Should you refuse to take a test, the officer can arrest you immediately and suspend your license for 180 days. If you were involved in an accident involving serious injury or death, the police may forcibly draw blood.

If you’re pulled over for drunk driving, the best thing you can do is to be polite to the officer but also avoid talking as much as possible. In particular, don’t mention if you were drinking earlier that day or visited a bar unless the officer expressly asks.

License suspension

As previously mentioned, your driver’s license will likely get revoked for up to 2 years unless you file a request, in writing, to have an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. You must file a hearing request within 15 days after your DWI arrest or else your license will be automatically suspended 40 days after you receive notice.

If your license is suspended because the ALR judge denied your request or because you didn’t file a hearing request in time, you may still be able to apply for an occupational license. An occupational license (also known as an “essential need license”) is different from other types of licenses in that the driving activities of holders are severely restricted. However, it can allow you to drive to school, work or to perform other essential duties despite your license suspension for a limited time.

Pre-trial, trial and sentencing

Once your court date is set, you’ll be required to attend pre-trial and trial proceedings—once again located at the Galveston County Justice Center located at 600 59th St. During this litigation phase, various steps may occur—including motions, plea bargains, discovery, jury selection, opening statements, trial, and sentencing.

Throughout this process, it’s essential that defendants fully understand their constitutional rights to ensure they aren’t violated. For instance, under the Fourth Amendment, the officer must be able to prove that they had reasonable suspicion to pull you over and probable cause to arrest you.

Texas DWI laws and punishments

handcuffed to liquor bottle

In Texas, someone can be arrested and charged for driving while intoxicated (DWI) if they have a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, or if they appear to be intoxicated or impaired from drug use—including illegal and prescription drugs. Drivers and passengers can also be fined up to $500 if they have an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the vehicle.

Texas DWI law is laid out in Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code:

Sec. 49.04. DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED. (a) A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.

(b) Except as provided by Subsections (c) and (d) and Section 49.09, an offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours.

(c) If it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that at the time of the offense the person operating the motor vehicle had an open container of alcohol in the person’s immediate possession, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of six days.

(d) If it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that an analysis of a specimen of the person’s blood, breath, or urine showed an alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more at the time the analysis was performed, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

Punishments or penalties for a DWI in Texas depend on various factors, such as if you have a prior conviction or if a child was in the vehicle.
 

First DWI

A first-time DWI offense is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • A $2,000 fine
  • 3 to 180 days in jail
  • Loss of your driver’s license for up to 1 year
  • Annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for 3 years to retain your license

If your BAC level clocks in at .15 percent or higher, the DWI is charged as a Class A misdemeanor with fines raised up to $4,000.

Second DWI

A second DWI offense is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • A $4,000 fine
  • 1 month to a year in jail
  • Loss of your driver’s license for up to 2 years
  • Annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for 3 years to retain your license

Third DWI

Three or more DWI convictions is categorized as a third-degree felony, punishable by:

  • A $10,000 fine
  • 2 to 10 years in prison
  • Loss of your driver’s license up to 2 years
  • Annual fee of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for 3 years to retain your license

DWI with a child passenger

If you are found driving drunk with a passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle, this is considered a state jail felony and punishable by:

  • A $10,000 fine
  • 6 months to 2 years in a state jail
  • Loss of your driver’s license for 180 days

Intoxication manslaughter

If another person is killed while the defendant was driving while intoxicated, regardless of whether or not you’ve been convicted of a prior DWI offense, this is considered a second-degree felony and punishable by:

  • A $10,000 fine
  • 2 to 20 years in prison
  • Loss of your driver’s license up to 2 years
  • Up to 800 hours of court-ordered community service

DWI while driving for work

In addition to the penalties listed above, commercial drivers and truckers may face the following penalties if caught driving with a BAC limit of .04 percent or higher:

  • Suspension of CDL for one year (first conviction)
  • Permanent revocation of CDL (second conviction)

Enhanced DWI offenses and penalties

If you have 2 or more DWI convictions within 5 years, you’ll be required to install an ignition interlock device that prevents your vehicle from starting if it detects alcohol on your breath.

Other DWI offenses that can result in enhanced penalties in Texas include:

  • DWI involving a first responder. It’s a second-degree felony if a drunk driver causes bodily injury to an on-duty peace officer, firefighter, EMT or ambulance personnel.
  • DWI resulting in a coma. It’s a second-degree felony if the intoxicated driver causes a collision that results in another person suffering traumatic brain injury, which put the person in a persistent vegetative state.

When to hire a Galveston DWI defense lawyer

We strongly recommend you hire a private criminal defense lawyer who specializes in DWI cases in the Galveston area as soon as possible after an arrest, preferably before the arraignment. The consequences of a DWI on your record are profound and long-term. In addition, there are strict deadlines defendants must meet to avoid the possibility of fines, jail time, and having their driver’s license suspended or revoked permanently.

Building a strong defense takes careful planning, research and time. The sooner you can obtain help from an experienced DWI defense lawyer, the sooner we can begin building your case.

Get the best possible defense against your criminal charge

In addition to DWI charges, veteran criminal defense attorney Matt Sharp specializes in defending clients against other serious offenses in the Galveston area, including:

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Sex crimes

Texas enacts some of the harshest punishments when it comes to sex offenses, like rape, sexual assault, prostitution, and solicitation. A strong defense strategy is vital in these cases.

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Drug possession

Were you arrested for possession of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth or another illegal drug? A drug charge can result in severe penalties that affect your life long afterwards.

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Federal crimes

Federal charges differ from state offenses in many ways. For starters, the penalties are often more severe, which is why it’s vital to hire a defense attorney who specializes in federal law.

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Prostitution

In Texas, it’s illegal to solicit a prostitute for the purposes of engaging with him or her in sex for hire. Let us show you how we can mount a strong defense against a prostitution charge.

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Violent crimes

The punishments for violent crimes like armed robbery, assault, kidnapping, battery and murder are harsh in Texas. If you’ve been charged with a violent crime, get the best defense attorney possible.

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White collar crimes

An allegation of a white collar crime such as fraud, identify theft or embezzlement can have a devastating impact on your professional career and personal life. We can defend you against these charges.

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Theft

Shoplifting, burglary, robbery, identify theft and other property related crimes are common offenses in the Texas criminal justice system. Our theft defense lawyers can make sure you’re properly represented.

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Internet offenses

New Texas laws make it a criminal offense to engage in online harassment, soliciting, hacking, extortion, child pornography and other computer crimes. Work with a lawyer who knows how to defend you.

Local resources for Galveston, TX residents

Official government websites

City of Galveston, Texas

Galveston County, Texas

Texas Public Sex Offender Registry

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

Galveston Police Department
601 54th St
Galveston, TX 77551
Emergency 911
(409) 765-3702 (non-emergency)

Galveston Sheriff’s Office
601 54th St
Galveston, TX 77551
(409) 766-2322 (non-emergency)

Local legal resources

State Bar of Texas

Galveston County Bar Association

Galveston County Criminal Case Records Search

Galveston County Justice System

Galveston County Courthouse
600 59th St
Galveston, TX 77550

Federal Courthouse in Galveston
601 25th St
Galveston, TX 77550

Get Your Free Consultation with an Experienced Galveston DWI Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one have been arrested for DWI in Galveston, chances are you feel afraid, stressed and confused about what to do next. You are probably wondering how this charge is going to affect your life and your family. Yes, the consequences of a DWI, even if it’s your first offense, are very serious. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the process alone.

Hiring the best defense attorney you can find can save you down the road by ensuring your job, reputation, freedom and future are protected. Matt Sharp has over 12 years of experience successfully defending his clients from DWI charges all across Southeast Texas, including Galveston County. He has won a number of not-guilty verdicts and dismissals in a wide variety of cases. He’s standing by to defend you right now.

Chat with Matt to find out what to do next and to schedule your free case consultation.

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