The penalties for DWI/DUI offenses are continuing to get increasingly more severe.
A good lawyer aggressively defends the rights of citizens charged with a DWI or DUI in Texas and understands how to challenge the field tests and breath tests, how to help people obtain occupational driver’s licenses for work and how to avoid harsh and oftentimes severe penalties. Penalties can include fines, driver’s license surcharges, automobile interlock devices, increased insurance premiums, legal fees, jail time and mandatory license suspension to name a few.
WARNING: Once you receive a notice of suspension (usually the date of arrest) there are only 15 days to request a hearing to contest the suspension of your driver’s license. If you fail to request this hearing, you will automatically receive a driver’s license suspension 40 days from the notice of suspension. You may request an occupational driver’s license if you fail to request the hearing within the required time frame.
Administrative License Revocation Process (ALR)
When a person is arrested for DWI, two simultaneous legal proceedings are started, one criminal and one civil.
The civil proceeding sets out to suspend the person’s driver’s license for a set period of time.
The arresting officer is required to take the person’s driver’s license and issue a temporary permit that is only valid for 40 days from the date of issuance unless the person requests a hearing to contest the suspension of their driver’s license within 15 days. Otherwise, the suspension is automatic.
At the ALR Hearing, if the arresting officer does not appear, the complaint is often dismissed and the license suspension is avoided.
This will not affect the criminal proceeding. If the arresting officer does appear and the ALR hearing proceeds, then the Department of Public Safety must show:
Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests are designed to give police probable cause to arrest, while breath and blood tests can give police hard evidence of guilt or evidence.
While there is no legal penalty for refusing field sobriety tests, a refusal will almost always result in an arrest.
There are usually three segments of the field sobriety tests that police will administer: the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand test. In addition to these three tests, police may administer tests involving recitation of the alphabet, counting, or the “Rhomberg” balance tests. Field sobriety tests must be administered in the proper manner.
If police officers deviate from the proper administration of the tests, it can result in evidence being inadmissible during a criminal trial or civil hearing.
Breath And Blood Tests
Texas Implied Consent law compels drivers to submit to a blood or breath test or their driver’s license could be suspended. Once someone is placed under arrest for DWI/DUI, the officer must then transport them to the police station in order for the person to provide a breath test. If the person has agreed to provide blood, the officer will usually take the person to the nearest hospital for the blood test and take the person to jail once the test has been completed.
Occupational Driver’s Licenses
An occupational driver’s license may be obtained to drive to and from work, to get to and from school, as well as to perform essential household duties.
A judge is required to sign an order granting an occupational license before the Department of Public Safety will issue one. In addition to the judge’s order, the Department of Public Safety requires you carry SR-22 insurance, an insurance policy that states whether your policy is canceled, terminated or has lapsed.
Furthermore, you must pay reinstatement fees and an occupational fee before the Department of Public Safety issues the license. For some clients, there may be a waiting period before the Department of Public Safety will issue an occupational driver’s license, depending on how many driver’s license suspensions you’ve had in the past.
Texas DWI Penalties
The State of Texas has continued to get harsher on DWI offenses.
First-time offenses can result in large fines, a jail sentence, a driver’s license suspension and a driver’s license surcharge. Penalties continue to increase dramatically for subsequent offenses. Thus, it is extremely important to avoid a conviction for even a first-time offense.
- First DWI or DUI Offense is a class B misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $2,000, 72 hours to 180 days in jail, the loss of driving privileges for up to a year, and an annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for three years to retain your driver’s license.
- Second DWI or DUI Offense is a class A misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $4,000, 30 days to 365 days in jail, the loss of driving privileges for up to two years, and an annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years to retain your driver’s license.
- Third DWI or DUI Offense is a 3rd degree felony that carries a fine of up to $10,000, 2 to 10 years in prison, the loss of driving privileges for up to three years, and an annual fee for 3 years to retain your driver’s license.
- DWI with an Open Container is a class B misdemeanor with a minimum of six days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000, and an annual fee for 3 years to retain your driver’s license.
- Intoxicated Assault is a DWI accident involving bodily injuries, is a 3rd degree felony that carries a fine up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of 2 to 10 years.
- Intoxicated Manslaughter is a DWI accident involving death, is a 2nd degree felony that carries a fine up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of 2 to 20 years.
- DWI with Child Passenger is a state jail felony that involves driving under the influence with a passenger under the age of 15. Penalties include a jail sentence of 180 days to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000, and an annual fee for 3 years to retain your driver’s license.