Drunk Driving Can Impact More Than Your License
By: Mark Diaz
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Drunk Driving Can Impact More Than Your License
Drunk driving is one of the most frequent crimes in Texas and the United States, so many people who would not usually be charged with crimes face these charges. Many criminal punishments and driver’s license consequences for a DWI conviction are outlined below. However, there are other consequences of a drunk driving conviction to consider, too. If you have been charged with drunk driving, you should contact our Galveston DWI attorney at Mark Diaz & Associates today.
Legal Consequences For First-Time DWI Offenses In Texas
There are many serious legal consequences for a DWI charge in Texas. Even if it is a first-time offense, you will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. In addition, you can get jail time, a permanent criminal record, thousands in fines, and a suspended driver’s license. More information:
DWI With BAC Below .15%
This is a Class B misdemeanor with a minimum term of confinement of 3 days and up to a maximum of 6 months in the County Jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
DWI With An Open Container
This is still a Class B misdemeanor, however, the open container aspect increases the minimum jail sentence to 6 days.
DWI With BAC Of .15% Or Higher
This is a Class A misdemeanor that has a maximum jail term of 12 months in the County Jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
DWI With Child Passenger
This is a state jail felony with a possible prison sentence of no less than six months up to 2 years in State Jail Facility of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), and a maximum fine of $10,000. You also will get your driver’s license suspended and have a permanent criminal record.
In addition to the fines mentioned above, Texas enacted new laws adding additional mandatory administrative fines. For a first DWI there is a mandatory fine of $3,000. For s second, or subsequent DWi within 36 months, the fine is increased to $4,500. Lastly, if your BAC is over .15% then the fine is increased to $6,000. It should be noted that these mandatory fines can be negotiated with the court.
Consequences For Additional DWI Offenses
If you have a previous conviction for DWI in Texas or any other State and are accused of another DWI, the punishment range is enhanced from a Class B to a Class A misdemeanor.
If you have two or more previous convictions for DWI in Texas or any other State, the degree of offense is enhanced to a third-degree felony which has a punishment range of no less than 2 years and up to 100 years in prison at the Institutional Division of TDCJ, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Driver’s License Consequences For DWI Convictions
When first arrested for DWI, the officer will request that you provide either a breath or blood specimen for alcohol testing. While you have the ability to refuse that request, that decision could come with some consequences to your driver’s license.
If you refuse to provide a breath or blood sample, your license could be suspended for 180 days unless an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing challenging the suspension of that license is requested within 15 days of the arrest.
If you consent to provide a breath or blood specimen and the results are a .08 or higher, your license will be suspended for 90 days unless an ALR hearing is requested challenging the suspension.
This is an administrative suspension and is unrelated to the criminal case against you even though it is based on the same criminal incident. While you have the right to have a hearing on the matter, these hearings are complex and are subject to different rules and procedures than a criminal case. It is difficult to prevail in the hearing without a lawyer.
Note that if your license is suspended, there is a $125 reinstatement fee, and the ALR stays on your record for life.
Additionally, if you are convicted of a first-time DWI, expect a 90-day to one-year driver’s license suspension. If your alcohol concentration was .15% or higher or if it was your second or third conviction the suspension period is increased to no less than 180 days and up to two years.
Other Consequences To A DWI Conviction
Other than the criminal penalties and effects on your driver’s license, there are other DWI consequences. These effects can follow you for years and even forever.
Remember that if you are convicted, it stays on your permanent record. So, the conviction will appear on any criminal background check, and you may need to tell others about your criminal record when asked. These realities can make it challenging to get and keep some jobs. Other consequences of a Texas DWI conviction are:
- Problems with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL): A drunk driving conviction is usually problematic for professional truck drivers. The state can suspend, andn even potentially revoke your CDL. A CDL holder may be unable to work while their license is suspended. Also, many trucking companies will not hire you with a DWI.
- Trouble with other business and commercial licenses: If you have another type of business license, such as for real estate or nursing license, it could be at risk with a DWI conviction.
- Felony DWI: You may not be able to vote, run for office, or own firearms.
- Difficulty getting housing: Potential landlords often run criminal background checks before they will lease to you. The landlord can reject your application if you have a criminal record.
- Child custody rights: If you are divorced and have children, your custody rights could be negatively affected. A DWI conviction suggests you have poor judgment. Your ex could use the conviction against you in family court, too. If you have child visitation rights, your drunk driving conviction also can be used against you.
Texas Drunk Driving Conviction FAQ
If you have been charged with drunk driving in Texas, you are probably stressed about the future. These are the most common questions we receive about DWI charges in Texas:
Can Your First DWI Charge Be Dismissed Or Reduced?
Yes, a first-time DWI charge can be dismissed. However, the case will not be dismissed because the judge wants to go easy on you. Some DWIs are dismissed because of legal reasons such as an improper police stop or a lack of reasonable suspicion for the stop.
Sometimes, a first-time DWI charge can be charged as a Class B misdemeanor instead of enhanced to a greater charge. Your chances for this happening increase if an experienced Galveston DWI attorney represents you.
Can You Go To Jail For A First-Time Drunk Driving Conviction?
Yes. People get sentenced to jail every day for DWI in Texas. How likely it is to go to jail depends on the case circumstances, including your criminal record, driving record, and your attorney’s strategy.
How Much Is Bail For A Drunk Driving Charge?
The bail amount for a first-time charge is usually between $1,500 and $10,000. You can pay a cash bond or use a bail bond company.
Can A First-Time DWI Conviction Qualify For Deferred Adjudication?
Yes. After Texas House Bill 3582 was passed, first-time offenders can get deferred adjudication to avoid a criminal record and a final conviction. This is a type of probation that may keep the conviction off your record and you could potentially qualify for a non-disclosure which seals record of offense from the public.
How Long Will My DWI Stay On My Record?
Arrest and disposition records in this state are not removed automatically ever. Furthermore, a conviction will remain or your record permanently. However, if a DWi is dismissed for legal/factual it could be possible to have it expunged (erasing all record of the incident entirely).
Can You Beat A Texas DWI Charge?
Getting convicted for a Texas DWI is extremely undesirable, legally and personally. Unsurprisingly, most people want to avoid a DWI conviction at all costs, but is it possible? After all, the state of Texas has vast resources at its disposal to convict you. The good news is that many DWI cases in Galveston are defensible. Therefore, in some situations, leaving the court with the case dismissed is feasible.
Whether that happens depends on the circumstances and facts of your case. Also key is the skill and experience of your DWI lawyer. There are people every day in the state who plead guilty to a DWI even though they have a strong defense. Unfortunately, many charged with DWI hire the first drunk driving attorney they find, who just wants to do a plea bargain, so they get their fee. That is why it is crucial to hire a drunk driving attorney with a strong record of taking cases in front of a jury.
But before your DWI case needs to go to trial, your attorney needs to dig into the facts of the case. So, first, the lawyer will review all of the case evidence, including police reports, surveillance and arrest video, and breath and blood test results:
- Police report: The police officer must file a police report describing how and why you were arrested for DWI. The report must state the officer’s probable cause for placing you in custody. If your rights were violated during the stop, your attorney will home in on the police report.
- Video: Video evidence can be convincing at trial because it shows the jury what happened at the scene. There also may be video evidence of how you performed the field sobriety tests. In some cases, the tests are administered in a way that makes it difficult to pass them.
- Breath and blood tests: Your attorney should have the skill and experience to review the blood alcohol tests to determine if they were done correctly. If it appears the blood or breath tests were done incorrectly, your attorney will try to have the evidence thrown out. Also, sometimes the police will lack proper documentation showing the devices are calibrated correctly.
Contact Our Galveston DWI Attorney Today
If you have been charged with DWI in Galveston, it has many direct potential consequences. The good news is that you have made a vital first step in your defense when you hire the best DWI attorney. Contact our experienced Galveston DWI attorney today at Mark Diaz & Associates by calling (409) 515-6170.