Getting arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas can disrupt your life in many ways, especially if convicted. Those who serve time in jail may have lost their jobs as a result. A license suspension can also affect employment, as it may make commuting to work difficult or nearly impossible, in some cases. In addition, a criminal record for a DWI conviction can make it difficult to find new employment. However, a DWI conviction does not have to have lifelong consequences. There are ways to get back on track after a DWI. The experienced DWI lawyers at Jason English Law help our clients take the necessary legal steps to move forward after a DWI - contact us today at (512) 454-7548 to learn more about your options in a free consultation.
Consider Contacting a DWI Lawyer
Preparing for life after a DWI charge should begin shortly after the arrest. While the consequences of a DWI conviction can be serious and life-altering, some people who are facing these charges may be able to avoid a conviction. An experienced DWI lawyer can examine the case and determine all of your legal options given your specific circumstances. In some cases, a lawyer may find grounds to have the charge reduced or dismissed.
An experienced DWI lawyer will comprehensively evaluate the facts of your case to determine if all legal procedures were followed and if there is sufficient probable cause for the arrest. The case could potentially be thrown out if the defendant's rights were violated. For example, the charges could be dismissed if the arresting officer failed to read Miranda rights or if the arrest was made based on a faulty interpretation of field sobriety tests.
Meet the Terms of the Sentence
Those who have been convicted of DWI should always make sure to follow all the terms of their sentence. Failing to meet these terms can lead to further legal complications, including additional penalties and difficulty restoring a driver's license.
The penalties for DWI in Texas vary based on whether the defendant has previous DWI convictions and other circumstances. The Texas Department of Transportation has summarized the following penalties:
- Fines - Up to $2,000 for first offenses, $4,000 for second offenses, and $10,000 for third and subsequent offenses.
- Jail time - Up to 180 days in jail with 3 mandatory days for first offenses, 1-12 months in jail for second offenses, and 2-10 years in prison for third and subsequent offenses.
- License suspension - Up to a year for a first offense and two years for second and subsequent offenses.
Sentencing penalties will vary depending on numerous factors, including the circumstances of the arrest and the quality of legal representation. Texas DWI lawyer Jason English can help you present a strong legal case based on the facts and seek reduced penalties when arguing your case in court. Lesser penalties may make it easier to get back on track after a DWI.
Should You Seek Treatment?
In some cases, the court may require participation in addiction counseling or a drug or alcohol treatment program as part of sentencing. Of course, any court-mandated participation should be abided by, but it may also be worth considering participating in a treatment program even if not legally required to do so.
Some people who are arrested for DWI are occasional drinkers who made a mistake, while others may have problems with alcoholism. Those in the second group should not only avoid driving while intoxicated but consider seeking guidance for giving up drinking altogether. There is no shame in seeking help for a substance abuse problem, and abstinence is the best way to prevent future DWI arrests.
Can You Expunge a DWI in Texas?
Unfortunately, a DWI conviction cannot be expunged in Texas. However, there are certain circumstances in which a DWI charge may be expunged if there was no final conviction. Additionally, Texas House Bill 3016 allows DWI convictions to be sealed in Texas by filing a petition for an Order of Nondisclosure, but a judge must approve the petition.
To qualify for a sealed DWI in Texas, all of the following conditions must be met:
- It is a first-time DWI conviction
- The charge is a true first offense
- The defendant has successfully completed court-mandated community supervision or confinement
- The blood alcohol concentration was not .15 or higher
- There was not an accident involving another person (including passengers)
- The defendant was not charged with a subsequent offense after completing their DWI sentence
Also known as the Texas DWI Second Chance Law, House Bill 3016 was enacted in June of 2017. The law is retroactive, meaning that first-time DWI convictions from before June 2017 also qualify to be sealed.
Restoring a Suspended Driver's License After a DWI
A DWI conviction will always result in a license suspension of 90 days to two years, depending on the number of prior DWI convictions. There is no way to restore full driving privileges before the end of the suspension, but some drivers may apply for an occupational license. Those who qualify may continue driving for essential reasons, such as work and school-related activities. The following documents must be submitted during the application process:
- A certified copy of the applicant's driving history, including all previous driving offenses, arrests, convictions, and license suspensions or revocations
- SR-22 certificate form from the applicant's insurer
- A letter from the applicant's employer stating their position and the hours they need to drive
- A comprehensive letter stating the reasons for the application, including the applicant's schedule, hours, and locations that they need to drive to
A judge will review the request and issue a court order if the request is approved. This court order must then be submitted to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which will request a reinstatement fee and issue the official provisional license.
Ensure Your Legal Rights Are Protected – Contact Austin, Texas DWI Lawyer Jason English
If you are looking to get back on track after a DWI, Texas DWI lawyer Jason English can provide useful legal guidance, from legal defense against pending DWI charges to sealing criminal records for first-time convictions. Contact Jason English Law (512) 454-7548 to learn more about your case and legal options in a free consultation.
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