What’s commonly referred to as drunk driving or DUI in other states is called Driving While Intoxicated (or DWI) in Texas. According to Texas Penal Code § 49.04, a person commits a DWI offense when they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. In Texas, DUI (or driving under the influence) is a separate crime that only applies to minors.

For more on DWI definitions, information about DWI testing, DWI-related driver’s license suspensions, and more visit our DWI Resource Center.


There are many different types of DWI charges in Dallas:

A person commits driving while intoxicated (Texas Penal Code § 49.04) if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above is by law “intoxication.” Intoxication is, however, broader than just having a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration. Intoxication is defined under Texas law as not having the normal use of your mental or physical faculties because of alcohol or any other substance. You can, therefore, have a BAC of under 0.08 but be considered intoxicated if the judge or jury decide that you lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties due to alcohol (or any other substance, like cold medicine). 

Prosecutors and courts take second DWI offenses very seriously. This is especially the case in Dallas County where Mothers Against Drunk Driving or M.A.D.D. has its headquarters. A second DWI charge can result in severe penalties. For example, mandatory minimum jail sentences, higher fines, and oftentimes an ignition interlock are very common.

A person commits driving while intoxicated (Texas Penal Code § 49.04) if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. While normally a first and second DWI charges are misdemeanors, a third or more DWI charge is a felony DWI.

The case becomes DWI with Child Passenger (Texas Penal Code § 49.045) if the vehicle is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age. DWI with Child Passenger is a state jail felony offense. 

A person commits intoxication assault (Texas Penal Code § 49.07) if they cause serious bodily injury to another while driving while intoxicated. DWI is defined as operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. A person can also commit intoxication assault operating an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated. Most intoxication assault charges third-degree felonies.

A person commits intoxication manslaughter (Texas Penal Code § 49.08) results in a
driving while intoxicated offense that causes someone’s death. Intoxication manslaughter offenses can also involve
the operation of aircraft, watercraft, or amusement rides. Most intoxication manslaughter cases are second-degree


As you can see from the myriad of different types of DWI charges above, you need the right lawyer with the right knowledge and experience in Dallas when defending a DWI charge. A DWI charge must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot rule out each and every possible reasonable doubt, the presumption of innocence prevails and you must be found not guilty. This is the highest burden of proof in our justice system. When implemented in your defense by a skilled Dallas DWI attorney, it can be a powerful weapon in your defense.

Reasonable doubts that commonly arise in a DWI case include:

  • Can they rule out that you were not actually intoxicated (driving while tired, driving while texting, driving while distracted, etc.)
  • Can they rule out that someone else may have been driving?
  • Can they rule out that the police conducted an improper DWI investigation?
    • failure to follow properly standardized field sobriety test procedures and protocols
    • issues with the breathalyzer, blood draw and or storage, or blood test machine (proper calibration, maintenance, testing, qualified operator)

**Above and beyond all this, illegal traffic stops, illegal seizures, and illegal arrests can all be grounds to get a DWI offense thrown out or dismissed.


As you might already know, searching for DWI lawyers in Dallas can be overwhelming. After all, you are choosing someone who will hold your life, your future, and your family’s future in their hands. Amongst all of that, you also have endless Google pages telling you who might be the best lawyer for you. Aside from the obvious, such as reviews…you have to be comfortable with your lawyer and feel that you can trust the advice they give you. Attorneys are supposed to always work in their clients’ best interest. That shouldn’t just be meaningless talk. So what can you do to find the right one for you? 

  • Talk to several lawyers to get a feel for them and their staff. 
    • Do they take the time necessary to get to know you, to listen to what’s important to you, and answer your questions? 
    • Do they show you that you matter to them as a person and not just as a fee?

**Beware of lawyers who put the hard sell on you, who make big promises, or who don’t communicate the scope of the work and their fee clearly and understandably in a written contract or engagement agreement.


It’s important, no matter your charge to look for a lawyer who has past experience working with the same types of charges/cases. In this case, you would want to look for a lawyer that has a strong track record handling DUI/DWI cases. Most lawyers are and should be transparent about their track record on their website.

For example, here are a few of my track records that can be easily found on my website so that anyone who is potentially looking for a DWI lawyer can see what cases I’ve worked with and how their results were in the past: 

A.M. – DWI 2nd

Our client was a combat veteran with a previous DWI and a history of trauma related to his service. He has completed a prior pretrial diversion program so he wasn’t technically eligible for diversion again. We convinced the prosecutor to make an exception and his case was dismissed. 

T.V. – DWI First

We took over our client’s case from another lawyer. He had been set for court many times before and was set for trial even though that’s not what he wanted. After one court setting we got his case reduced and got him deferred probation. 

L.G. – DWI 3rd

Our client was facing a felony DWI due to his long record. In spite of his record and pretty bad facts, we took his case to trial and got a not guilty. For more on my track record, visit my DWI page here.

If you or someone you love has been arrested for drunk driving (DWI / DUI), you need an experienced Dallas DWI Lawyer in your corner. Driving While Intoxicated charges carry serious consequences including lengthy jail sentences, years of probation, and thousands of dollars in fees and fines. Moreover, unseen penalties can be even worse. For example, many people don’t expect driver’s license suspensions and a permanent criminal record that often comes with a DWI. Consequently, you need an experienced and skilled Dallas DWI Lawyer fighting for you. We highly recommend looking at our free resources on our site as well as calling us for a FREE consultation.

Dallas DUI lawyer Mike Howard will not only fight for you and do everything he can to prevent the serious consequences of a conviction, but he will give you an honest assessment of your case and explain the law and your legal options.

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