Archive for January, 2017

Do Ignition Interlock Devices Work to Stop Houston DUIs?


Texas DUI AttorneyIgnition interlock devices may be required for certain individuals who are convicted of driving while impaired by drugs. Texas Transportation Code section 521.246 establishes the rules regarding the use of ignition interlock devices. The devices are mandated for repeat offenders with multiple drunk driving convictions, as well as for certain convicted offenders who have a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

The costs of an ignition interlock device (IID) must be paid by the convicted defendant and the costs can often be quite substantial. The use of IIDs can be a big hassle for convicted defendants, especially as routine recalibration of the devices is typically required.

There has been a dedicated effort to greatly expand the use of ignition interlock devices across the United States, and today most states require at least some convicted DUI defendants to install IIDs in their vehicles.  There are even some advocacy groups who argue that every DUI defendant who is convicted should be required to get an Ignition Interlock Device.

However, even as the use of these devices expands, there are serious questions about whether they actually have an impact in prevention of drunk driving.

Ignition interlock devices make it difficult or impossible for someone to drive drunk during the time while the device is installed in a vehicle. The devices incorporate a breathalyzing test inside of the vehicle. The driver must blow into the breathalyzer test and have his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tested before the car will start. Periodic retesting may occur as the motorist is driving.

Because the car cannot start when the driver is drunk, unless a sober person blows into the device for him, the devices generally do tend to prevent or at least reduce drunk driving rates during the time the devices are installed inside of a person’s vehicle.  However, this seems to be the extent of the benefit.

The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability examined re-arrest rates in order to determine whether or not ignition interlock devices had long-term benefits of reducing the number of repeat DUI offenders. The research revealed that while rearrest rates did drop during the time the ignition interlock devices were actively being used on the vehicles, the recidivism rates returned to normal following the removal of the devices.

This result strongly suggests no actual change in attitude or behavior happens because of the installation of ignition interlock devices. The devices only serve as an additional cost and penalty for a defendant, and do not have a net positive impact on reducing drunk driving rates over the long-term.

If you are arrested for impaired driving, you should talk with an attorney to find out what your options are for trying to avoid a conviction and avoid the required use of ignition interlock devices on your vehicles. 

What is the Financial Impact of DWI Conviction in Texas?


Much higher than you might expect, a Texas DWI defense lawyer explains

Texas criminal defense attorneyBeing arrested, charged and convicted of drunk driving in Texas can completely change your life. You might lose your driver’s license for several weeks or months. You might have to install an ignition interlock device. You might even have to serve jail time.

And then there’s the cost. Some people only take into account any fines they have to pay for their driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction in Texas. But that’s often only a fraction of the true financial impact of many DWI convictions.

“Many people are surprised by how expensive a drunk driving conviction in Texas can be,” Texas DWI lawyer Joseph LaBella said. “That’s why we always encourage people to contact us as soon as possible if they have been charged with drunk driving.”

Estimated cost of DWI conviction

The financial impact of every DWI conviction is different. That’s because every case is unique. But the bottom line is most convictions cost people thousands of dollars over the course of their lifetime.

In 2006, the Texas Department of Transportation conducted a survey estimating the total cost of a DWI arrest and conviction for a first-time offender, according to an article posted on The article estimated that a first-time conviction with no accident can cost anywhere from $9,000 to $24,000. The same article also states that the Texas Safety Network estimates that a DWI can cost almost $8,000.

“I never would have thought I would have gotten a DUI and I had no idea how much it cost. I’m your quintessential good girl, too. I didn’t have that much to drink either, just enough to put me over the limit,” a woman named Kate said in the article. “It’s a real financial burden.”

Itemized breakdown of a DWI conviction

So why does a DWI conviction cost so much? Estimates include some of the following items:

  • Fines (up to $2,000 for 1st conviction)
  • Court costs
  • Bail
  • Car towing
  • Car impounding
  • Cost of incarceration (up to 3 months in jail for 1st conviction)
  • DWI school
  • Driver’s license reinstatement fee ($3,000 in many cases)
  • Loss of job (in certain circumstances)
  • Loss of income (in certain circumstances)
  • Purchase or rental of car ignition interlock device
  • Installation of car ignition interlock device
  • Monthly fees for car ignition interlock device
  • Increased auto insurance premiums
  • Attorneys’ fees

In addition, it’s important to note that such estimates are based on the following circumstances:

  • It’s your 1st DWI arrest.
  • You did not cause a car accident.
  • You did not injure anyone.

If you caused an accident and someone else was hurt, the financial impact of your DWI car accident could be significantly higher, especially if someone was killed in an auto accident you allegedly caused. If you accidently killed someone in a DWI accident, you could be charged with intoxication manslaughter. The penalty is up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Why hiring an attorney matters

Faced with such serious consequences, it’s important for people arrested and charged with DWI to contact a lawyer right away. That’s why we always urge people to call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You have too much to lose. Don’t wait to take strong legal action. Get the legal advice you need now to make things right. Contact us now.

Our firm, Joseph LaBella & Associates, handles driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases throughout Texas. If you or loved one has been charged with DWI, contact our law firm and schedule an appointment today. Call 1-800-395-5951 right now.