Being charged with a first DWI offense can feel like the end of the world. It’s okay to feel unsure of your next move during this period, but we are here to help make it easier on your part. At Stephen Bowling, we provide solid legal support and guidance to help you navigate through difficult times. We have an unrivaled track record of successful trial wins for our DUI/DWI clients in Austin. Our attorneys have the experience and commitment to give you the best opportunity to avoid a conviction. To discuss your case with a DWI defense expert, contact us today.
What Is Driving While Intoxicated In Texas?
According to the Texas Penal Code, you could be arrested and charged with a DWI if you operate a motor vehicle in public while intoxicated. In Texas, intoxication means either:
- Your BAC tests returned an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at the time of the arrest.
- You lacked the normal use of your physical or mental faculties owing to an introduction of a controlled substance, alcohol, a drug, or a combination of the substances into the body.
What Are The Penalties For a First DWI Offense In Texas?
Whether you are facing your first DWI/DUI charge or you are a repeat offender, the consequences of a DWI conviction are serious. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and prior criminal record, you could face the following sentences and administrative penalties:
The first DWI offense is typically considered a Class B misdemeanor. You could face a maximum fine of $2,000 as well as a jail sentence of up to 180 days if you are convicted of a first DWI offense in Texas. If your BAC at the time of arrest was .15 or more, your first-time offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor that attracts a maximum fine of $4,000 and a jail sentence of no more than one year.
For the first DWI offense, expect your driver’s license to be suspended for up to one year. A first offense conviction will attract a license renewal surcharge of $2000 annually for a period covering three years. This charge is in addition to any other fees or costs related to your license. You may also be required to drive with an interlock device for six months under the new state law.
Notably, you can obtain a hardship license that enables you to drive to and from work during the suspension period. Our DWI attorneys can help you obtain a hardship license to make your life easier even as we fight to see the charges dropped or penalties reduced.
What Are the Other Impacts a DWI Will Have on Your Life?
There are other consequences of a DWI conviction apart from those outlined by the penal code. Undeniably, a DWI conviction can impact your professional and personal life in the following ways:
- Loss of Job: Austin employers are reluctant to employ persons facing DWI charges. Although you could be innocent until proven guilty, most employers have a no-tolerance policy on DWI convictions and will let you go just for being arrested for DWI. Additionally, employers typically run background checks before you are hired, and a DWI record can make it almost impossible to secure a job anywhere in Texas.
- Professional licensing: Being convicted of a DWI offense in Texas can lead to the suspension or loss of your professional license. Typical licenses that are affected by a DWI conviction include pilot’s licenses, nursing licenses, and medical licenses.
- Housing: A DWI conviction can affect your ability to buy a house in Austin. Banks typically dig deep in search of extensive financial, credit, criminal, and employment history. If a past DUI conviction forced you to lose a job, affected your income, or changed your stability, your financial qualification status could be adversely affected.
- Child Custody: The timing of your DWI conviction or pending charge is critical in a child custody case. If you were charged or convicted recently, a DWI offense becomes an instant red flag that reduces the chances of being granted custody. A family court charge can conclude you are unfit to be granted sole custody and visitation rights of your child.
- Gun Ownership: In the US, most misdemeanor convictions may result in restrictions on firearm ownership. Although most DUI convictions in Texas may not result in a restriction on your gun rights, many felony DWI convictions will.
- Voting Rights: A DWI conviction can also lead to the loss of the right to vote. Your only chance for regaining the right is through a pardon from the Governor of Texas. However, the process of obtaining a pardon is a long and costly one.
What Are Some Defenses for the First-Time DWIs?
Although it may be impossible to dispute a test that proves you were driving while intoxicated at the time of arrest, you can use the fowling defense arguments:
- You drove while intoxicated out of necessity due to an emergency
- You drove drunk because you had no choice
- You drove while intoxicated because an officer told you to
- You drove drunk without realizing you were drunk
- You drove while intoxicated without consenting to drink
You can also argue your case on technical issues such as improper and unlawful traffic stops, inaccurate field sobriety tests, or chain of custody on a blood test. Notably, you have a right to refuse a chemical/ blood test if you believe the stop is illegal.
We Are Here to Help
DWIs are typically among the most common crimes in Texas with severe consequences. But they can be won. If you or a loved one is facing a DWI charge in Austin, do not despair. Our experienced attorneys know what juries expect, want, and don’t want. They have the insight and the expertise to help you beat your DWI.
At Stephen Bowling, our DWI attorneys are committed to having your DWI charges dropped or penalties limited. Contact the experienced DWI defense attorneys and get the help you need to stay in control of what happens next.