When someone faces a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge, they want to know the next steps. No one wants to get arrested, but all it takes is an unfortunate lapse of judgment to cause someone to experience severe consequences after a DWI. DWI charges can even lead to life-long effects on the person's driving record and criminal history. Working with an experienced attorney may help in the steps after your DWI arrest. Schedule a consultation with Jason English Law by calling (512) 454-7548 to learn all of your legal options.
Texas DWI Laws
Under Texas Penal Code, when someone operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated, that is considered driving while intoxicated (DWI) in the state. What is "intoxicated" under state law? When an individual has impaired physical or mental faculties resulting from the use of drugs, alcohol, or both, the person is intoxicated. Additionally, an individual can have a 0.08 BAC (blood alcohol concentration) and be deemed intoxicated.
Even those individuals with BACs at the legal limit may be charged with DWI if their physical and mental abilities are impaired. Law enforcement personnel often conduct sobriety tests to determine whether a driver is considered intoxicated or not. Refusal to submit to these field tests may lead to a license suspension for at least 180 days. Texas considers DWI to be a Class B misdemeanor.
What Happens After You Get a DWI in Texas?
Many drivers worry about whether the charges will stay on their permanent record. In most cases, it will depend on the situation. An arrest does not always lead to an immediate conviction. Everyone has the legal right to fight these criminal charges. Depending on the type of arrest, an individual has several options. Felony DWI arrests carry the most severe consequences, affecting a person's employment, insurance rates, and criminal record for many years. In the state of Texas, a Class B DWI misdemeanor turns into a felony if the driver:
- Had a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle when driving while intoxicated.
- The driver had two prior convictions of driving while intoxicated.
With those convictions, the driver will have a felony charge on their record and face up to 10 years in prison.
Even a first offense carries severe consequences. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, drivers may face:
- A $2,000 fine
- Loss of a driver's license for up to a year
- Up to 180 days in jail with a conviction (including three mandatory days)
A DWI arrest comes at a high personal and financial cost for many individuals. Speaking to an attorney at Jason English Law may help you determine the next steps for your case.
Consider Seeking Legal Advice and Schedule a Hearing
Following a DWI arrest, the individual should consider seeking some type of legal help. These charges remain serious and failing to follow the necessary steps may lead to jail time, hefty fines, and lost driving privileges. Many drivers want to know whether they will immediately lose their driver's license. In most cases they will not lose their driver's license, however, an individual must request a hearing in the state.
After an arrest, the driver must ask for a Texas Administrative License Revocation hearing within 15 days. If that does not happen, the state suspends the license on the 40th day (following arrest). At the hearing, the driver meets with the Department of Public Safety and appeals the license suspension. Remember that the hearing is considered a civil case, not a criminal one, but the state may use the same evidence in both cases. When the driver requests an ALR hearing, the license is typically not suspended until after the meeting, usually about four to six months after the arrest. In the case of a suspension, the driver will need to request an occupational license that they can use to drive to and from work.
How Do I Get a DWI Dismissed in Texas?
Despite the arrest, every individual is innocent until proven guilty. For some, it can be a tough uphill fight to prove their innocence in a court of law. A DWI arrest does not automatically mean a conviction on the person's record. An attorney will look at all of the evidence from the arrest, including whether the law enforcement officer followed the proper legal procedures or had the equipment adequately calibrated. Convictions must be made on "reasonable doubt" in a criminal court case. If the evidence does not indicate guilt on the defendant's behalf, then the individual may have their case dismissed or be found not guilty.
While the ultimate goal is to avoid a conviction, some cases do result in a guilty charge. Unfortunately, the defendant may have to serve jail time, meet with probation officers, pay surcharges and court fees, and face a license suspension. Some drivers even need to install a device that allows them to operate a vehicle after taking a breath test. In addition, the DWI can permanently affect the individual's reputation. Most charges cannot be expunged after a certain time, allowing those DWI convictions to remain on a criminal record. Instead, the arrest record can be sealed, meaning that the conviction remains with the person for the rest of their life. Preventing a conviction may be the only way to stop the lifelong consequences of these DWI crimes.
Work With a Criminal Defense Attorney
While the potential outcome may seem dire, a DWI arrest does not always lead to a conviction. A criminal defense attorney with DUI case experience might be able to help in your case. One of the primary goals is to minimize the damages from the charge, including avoiding a conviction. While DWI laws are complex, and no situations are the same. Seeking legal assistance may help you receive a fair representation in the courtroom and guarantee your legal rights are protected. Facing a DWI charge in the state means a lifetime of consequences and damage to your reputation. When you need legal advice from an experienced attorney in Texas, reach out to Jason English Law. Schedule a consultation by calling the office at (512) 454-7548.