DWI in a Rental Car in Houston, TX


When the police charge you with a DWI in a rental car in Houston, it doesn’t matter whether you live here or not. For pleasure and for business, millions of people visit the state of Texas each year. While Texas has much to offer its visitors, our state also has very strict laws around driving while intoxicated (DWI). 

Everyone needs to take drunk driving seriously because it endangers others on the road. Still, visitors to Houston often find themselves in a common scenario. Picture the following. 

You travel and work all day. As your business concludes, you have dinner and drinks with some colleagues. You head back to your hotel in a rental car on roads you don’t know. 

After a long day, you’re tired, and it’s difficult to navigate new roads in the dark. Moreover, perhaps you can’t figure out how to turn off the brights of this rental vehicle. Next thing you know, you see flashing lights behind you. 

You roll to a stop, and an officer asks whether you had anything to drink. Too often, a small mistake turns into a DWI in a rental car during a business trip or on a vacation. However, it’s important to remember that you remain innocent until proven guilty. 

You always have the right to defend yourself against drunk driving allegations. This is true even when your BAC shows above the legal limit. When you understand the consequences of a Texas DWI, you’ll see why it is essential to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. 

What Are the Penalties of a DWI in Texas?

Generally speaking, a first-time DWI in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor. That means you face up to 72 hours in jail as well as fines and a license suspension. Moreover, you face a $3,000 administrative penalty for your first DWI in 36 months. 

This mounts on top of any of the fines a judge imposes. When other factors aggravate the case, these penalties increase. These include intoxication assault, a BAC above .15%, a minor in the vehicle, and more. 

Additionally, you potentially face other penalties, such as alcohol treatment or an order for an interlock device. This device fits your car’s starter, requiring you to blow into it to start your car. If it registers any alcohol, the car does not start. 

DWI in a Rental Car: Impounded Rentals

After an arrest for a DWI in a rental car, the police have to do something with the vehicle. In some cases, they allow you to call someone to pick it up. If you had a legal, sober passenger in the car, the police might also allow them to drive it away. 

However, that’s not always the case, and the police aren’t always that patient. In those cases, it’s a good idea to check FindMyTowedCar.com or call the tow line at 713-308-8580. 

If this happens, call the rental company or ask the police to do so. They can pick up the vehicle from the impound lot. However, prepare yourself for fees and penalties. Moreover, it’s likely that you’ll need to arrange a pickup for any items you left in the car. 

Lastly, you might want to see whether this company will allow you to continue renting vehicles from them in the future. 

Texas Driver’s License

If you are a resident of Texas charged with a DWI in a rental car, the police confiscate your license. When they release you, they provide a paper that serves as a temporary license. This lasts for 40 days. 

After that period, the state suspends your license for up to two years. This duration varies with any prior drunk driving convictions and whether you refused a BAC test. 

To challenge this suspension, you have 15 days from your arrest to request an Administrative License Revocation hearing. Your temporary license lasts until your hearing date. 

However, if you miss this deadline, your license remains suspended until your trial ends in a not guilty verdict. 

DWI in a Rental Car: Your Out-of-State Record

If you live in another state, your Texas DWI in a rental car is likely to follow you home. In collaboration with 44 other states, Texas shares moving violations with other states. Per the Driver License Compact Commission, this includes DWI information and convictions. 

Texas joined this compact in 1993. The purpose is to exchange information regarding traffic violations and license suspensions of non-residents. Moreover, it forwards them to their home state. 

Due to this, residents of many states see their Texas DWI follow them home. Moreover, their home state may apply its own laws to your DWI in a rental car in Houston. Additionally, Texas reports whether you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. 

That means you face an array of penalties both in Texas and your home state. Unfortunately, this has the potential to result in staggering fines as well as jail time, points against your license, and more. 

In addition to DWIs, Texas reports an array of charges. These include the following, among others. 

  • Failure to stop and provide information 
  • Intoxication manslaughter
  • Failure to stop and render aid 
  • Felony in a motor vehicle 
  • Negligent homicide 
  • Intoxication assault 
  • Vehicular manslaughter

There are five states that are not part of the interstate compact. These are Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan, and Massachusetts.

Texas does not have the power to suspend an out-of-state license. As such, it is up to your home state whether you face suspension. For instance, while Massassachusetts is not part of the compact, it often treats an out-of-state DWI as though it took place in the state. 

You Have to Face Your Charges in Texas

Regardless of whether you reside in another state, you have to handle your charges for DWI in a rental car in Texas. You have to return for any hearings as well as the trial. 

Failure to appear is always a bad idea. In this case, the Texas judge has the option to issue a default judgment against you. Often, that comes with a warrant for your arrest. 

DWI in a Rental Car: Expert Representation

If you face charges of DWI in a rental car, the stakes are high. This is true regardless of whether you live in Texas. Potentially, you face jail time, a license suspension, fines, and more. 

Moreover, you might face added penalties back home. To handle your charges in Texas, you need the representation of a skilled Houston DWI lawyer. With an experienced DWI defense attorney on your side, you have someone to mount an aggressive, strong defense. 

Backed by experience and expertise in Texas DWI cases, the Martinez Law Firm is here to help you. With extensive experience in the courtroom, Herman Martinez offers unique insight into an array of criminal defense cases. 

For a free consultation and review of your case, contact our firm today.