There are many intricacies to Texas DWI laws; legal complexities can add to the confusion of facing a DWI, especially for a first-time offender. DWI charges involve a criminal proceeding and an administrative proceeding. It’s essential to be aware of what a DWI criminal proceeding entails. It’s also crucial to be informed about the administrative process involved when dealing with a Texas DWI charge.
The DWI legal process consists of a criminal process and an administrative process. A criminal proceeding against you may result in criminal charges, jail time, probation, fines, and more. The Texas Department of Public Safety will also initiate an administrative, civil case against you. If convicted of a DWI, you will face severe consequences, which will vary depending on your specific DWI circumstances. Any complicating factors, including whether this is your first, second, or third DWI, may increase the severity.
DWI Criminal Proceedings Often Include:
A non-complicated 1st offense DWI conviction is a Class B misdemeanor that typically includes 3 to 180 days in jail. A non-complex 2nd DWI offense is a Class A misdemeanor and usually encompasses 30 days to one year behind bars. A 3rd DWI conviction is a serious felony that is punishable by two to 10 years in prison.
Increasingly steep fines accompany DWI convictions. A 1st offense DWI carries up to a $2,000 fine. A 2nd offense DWI conviction is punishable by up to a $4,000 fine. A 3rd offense DWI conviction carries a hefty fine of up to $10,000. This fine is not all-encompassing; there may be additional costs associated with your case, including court costs, legal fees, driver’s license reinstatement fees, surcharges, and more.
3. Ignition Interlock
You may be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in your vehicle before reinstatement of your driver’s license. An IID is a unique breathalyzer device that is attached to a vehicle ignition switch. If the IID detects alcohol on your breath, then the vehicle will not turn on.
4. Driving School
If convicted of a DWI, you will likely be required to participate in court-mandated drug and alcohol-related education as part of a safe driving course. Typically, courts require the completion of driving school before you are eligible for reinstatement of driving privileges.
Other Consequences May Include:
Loss of a job
Many employers require background checks before employment or routinely throughout a career. A DWI conviction will show up on your background check and may hurt your chances of gaining or maintaining a steady job. A DWI conviction that results in extended time behind bars will likely also result in loss of employment. Even if you manage to attain the minimum jail time of three days for a 1st offense DWI resulting in nominal missed workdays, your employer may fire you if your job requires a driver’s license and a satisfactory driving record.
Loss of a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
Texas commercial drivers work hard to earn their CDL, and Texas holds CDL drivers to a higher standard than the average driver. A commercial driver is intoxicated if their BAC is .04 or higher while operating a commercial vehicle. If you are a CDL driver convicted of a DWI in Texas, you will endure a minimum of one-year of CDL suspension without an occupational CDL option. A CDL suspension means you will not only lose your driving privileges but you will also lose your job.
Loss of a Concealed Handgun License (CHL)
A DWI conviction will mean that you are labeled a criminal, and you may even lose the ability to have a Concealed Handgun License.
DWI Administrative Proceedings
In a DWI administrative proceeding, the Texas Department of Public Safety will begin a case against you and suspend your driver’s license unless you act quickly. Upon your DWI arrest, you will receive a Notice of Suspension Temporary Driving Permit. This document will inform you of the administrative case against you regarding your license and serve as a temporary driving permit. Carefully read the entire document.
Request an ALR Hearing
You have 14 days to file a request for an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing from the date you received the Notice. If you do not request for an ALR hearing, then the Texas Department of Public Safety will automatically take action to suspend your driver’s license. Promptly requesting an ALR hearing is an integral part of protecting your driving privileges. A proven DWI attorney can help you file the request for an ALR hearing and work hard to help you retain your driving privileges while the case is ongoing. It may take up to 120 days for an ALR hearing to be scheduled. Throughout the ALR process, your attorney will act on your behalf, examine all reports and evidence, and identify any weak points in the case against you.
Additional Things to Keep in Mind
Law Enforcement Officers are Not Your Friend
The police officers and other people you meet throughout the DWI process are not your friends. It is their job to build a strong case against you. They intend to process you into the system as quickly as possible. Even if this is your first arrest or first DWI, they do not have to help you or teach you the process, and they don’t intend to. Do not say more than you have to because everything you say can and will be used against you in court.
The Benefit of A Proven DWI Attorney
Your future is on the line, and a proven DWI attorney will provide you with your best chance of protecting your future. Do not assume you will lose the fight against the DWI charges. With a skilled DWI attorney on your side, you will be better equipped to have the charges dropped or reduced.
If you are stopped by a police officer and charged with a DWI, you need to act quickly. The first thing you need to do is keep the details of your case private. Do not share more information than absolutely necessary. The second thing you need to do is contact an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible.