A conviction of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas carries significant criminal penalties. These penalties include high fines, jail or prison time, and the loss of your driver's license. There are also many side effects or "collateral consequences" to a DWI conviction as well. This may include the loss of your job, problems getting certain professional licenses, and much more. Understanding the possible collateral consequences you face is an important part of deciding how to handle a DWI charge, and what is in your best interests moving forward.
If you are charged with a DWI in Texas, contact Texas DWI lawyer Jason S. English to fight for your rights and help you get on with your life. You are not alone, and you can fight this.
Austin, Texas DWI Attorney
As a highly experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, Jason S. English has the knowledge and skills necessary to represent you in your DWI case. With 15 years of experience as a prosecutor, he has the trial experience necessary to ensure you are well-represented throughout your criminal case. He knows the prosecutor playbook and will keep you prepared and ready to fight for your constitutional rights. You have the right to defend your charge or get a second chance after a conviction. Never assume that you are guilty just because you were charged with a crime.
Collateral Consequences of a DWI in Texas
There are a great many possible side effects or collateral consequences that may stem from a DWI conviction. This can greatly impact your daily life, even outside of the typical penalties such as fines, jail time, or a driver's license suspension. With the right legal defense, you can work to reduce the potential impacts on your life as a result of a DWI charge.
As a result of a DWI conviction, you could easily lose your job. If you are sent to jail or prison, you may miss too many days of work and be let go. Other employers are less than favorable to those who have been sentenced to a crime. This is especially true of anyone working in government, teaching, or otherwise in a position where their "morals" are under greater scrutiny.
The loss of your job means the loss of your income, and the way you pay bills, enjoy life, and support yourself and your family. A conviction of a DWI may make you ineligible for certain jobs or may require special training and exceptions to gain that type of employment. This can greatly reduce your options or even derail a career you have been building for many years.
A DWI conviction can have a severe, negative effect on your ability to apply for or maintain a professional license. Many occupations require professional licensure in order to work in that field. These include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Certified Nurse Practitioners
- Real Estate Agents or Real Estate Brokers
- Commercial Drivers
- Government Employees
There are many more occupations that require a special license in order to continue working in that field. A DWI can result in the revocation of a previously held license or suspension of that license upon further review. If you intended to apply for a professional license, this can make the process much more difficult or even impossible in some situations.
Many jobs, especially those in government, require a particular security clearance. A security clearance requires an in-depth background check that will see and flag any criminal convictions whether they are misdemeanors or felonies. A conviction for DWI can make the security clearance application process more difficult or may even disqualify you altogether.
Not all security clearances will be unavailable simply due to a DWI. It largely depends on the type of job you are applying for and what the particular requirements are for that clearance. In any case, however, a DWI conviction is likely to throw a wrench into the process. You may have to explain your DWI convictions, prove that you have not re-offended, or prove you have been without a conviction for a certain number of years.
In many cases, an experienced DWI lawyer can help you understand these requirements and how a DWI conviction or plea would impact your ability to apply for and receive a needed security clearance.
Impacts on Child Custody
When a court is asked to determine child custody, it will look at the individuals requesting custody to determine if the child will be safe with that person. As part of that determination, the court will consider your criminal history. This will include any DWI convictions. A DWI conviction does not necessarily mean you cannot have custody, but it could weigh in on the decision. Although the court will take it into consideration, a DWI conviction is not necessarily an end to your request for custody.
However, it may impact child custody issues more if the DWI demonstrates that a person has an issue with addiction. This could include addiction to alcohol or if the person is dependent on intoxicating drugs. The court will consider this and put great emphasis on this consideration. DWI at least calls into question whether you are an addict, and courts are hesitant to put the life of a child into the hands of an addict.
In order to make sure this does not affect your custody request negatively, it is important to demonstrate that you do not have a problem with addiction, or that if you did, you have sought, received, and completed treatment. Proof of ongoing treatment and being "clean" for long periods of time can help alleviate the court's concerns.
Getting a Loan
Being convicted of a crime, including a DWI, can make getting a loan more difficult. Whether this loan is from a bank, payday lender, or other financial institution, a criminal history will act as a red flag. Those who give out loans are primarily interested in finding people who will reliably pay them back. A criminal history makes a person a "riskier" investment than someone with a clean record. No matter the type of loan, this can make your life more difficult when trying to get money.
Even a car loan can be difficult to get a hold of after a DWI conviction. Many car loans use the vehicle as collateral against the loan. A driver with a DWI is likely to be considered a higher risk to that car, even if the person will never actually drink and drive again in their life. Most people do not pay for cars outright, so they need a loan in order to purchase a vehicle. A DWI conviction could make that more difficult.
The other major loan that a DWI can affect is when you need a mortgage. When you want to buy a house, a mortgage is certainly necessary, but it can be difficult to get one with a criminal history of some kind. When you do get a mortgage, it may be at a higher interest rate. This can be incredibly difficult to deal with at times.
In addition to the housing challenges presented by being unable to get a mortgage, those who rent will also face issues. Many landlords are hesitant to rent to those with criminal charges that appear on their background checks, and this can significantly limit the places available to you. For those on public assistance, subsidized housing may be unavailable.
A misdemeanor DWI conviction will not affect your right to vote in elections. However, a felony DWI conviction will. Felons lose their right to vote. It is not until after they have completed a prison sentence, parole, probation, or they receive a pardon that they are eligible to vote again. Even then, they cannot just show up to vote; they have to re-register to vote.
This loss of a constitutional right can greatly affect you, especially if you care about voting and helping decide how your state and country are represented. While you can eventually get this right back, it is important to understand that it will be lost, for a certain amount of time, upon a felony conviction.
Right to Own Firearms
Under federal law, those individuals convicted of a felony lose their second amendment right to own and use a firearm. This means that, even if you already own weapons, it could become illegal to own and use them if you are convicted of a felony DWI.
Consult an Experienced DWI Attorney in Austin, Texas
If you have been charged with a DWI in Texas it is important to speak to a criminal defense attorney right away. Contact Texas DWI lawyer Jason S. English online or call (512) 454-7548. With his many years of experience, Jason S. English is prepared to fight for your constitutional rights.