Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
DWI laws are becoming increasingly stringent. The legislature has toughened the laws on DWIs due to policy-driven goals to prevent DWI-related injuries and deaths. A primary goal as your defense attorney is to educate jurors on the correct way to effectuate a DWI stop, accurately detect the signs of intoxication, and properly make an arrest. If you have been charged with DWI, call our office immediately to discuss the facts surrounding your case at 817-789-4000. Our experienced team can defend you and protect your driving privileges. Here are some helpful answers to common questions:
What is a DWI?
Driving while intoxicated is defined in two different ways: (1) Not having the normal use of your mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of drugs or alcohol to the body; or (2) Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more in your system.
What happens to my license when I am arrest for DWI?
Once arrested for DWI, you can face a pre-conviction license suspension, and possibly a post-conviction license suspension. If you are convicted of DWI, your license can be suspended: For up to 2 years, if you are 21 years old or older; For 1 year, if you are under 21 years old and: an additional 180 days if you don’t complete an Alcohol Education Program, or 90 days if you are required to get an interlock ignition and complete community service.
If you fail a breath or blood test, or you refuse to submit to one when pulled over on suspicion of DWI, a police officer will take your license and issue you a 40-day temporary driving permit. The accused has a 14-day window to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing. If you fail to request a hearing, your license will be suspended after that 40 days.
You may also be eligible to petition the court for an occupational driver’s license. Depending on the DWI offense, a mandatory “hard suspension” period may apply before you are eligible to apply for an occupational license, but it is important to contact an attorney to determine if/when you are eligible to petition for an occupational license.
What is an occupational driver’s license?
An occupational driver’s license is a restricted license for individuals whose licenses have been suspended. You can obtain an occupational driver’s license before and/or after conviction of DWI. These restricted licenses are usually valid for up to a year, but can be issued for a maximum of 2 years if the court orders. Not everyone can get an occupational driver’s license. Examples of this for DWI related purposes include if you have received two occupational driver’s licenses in the past 10 years after a conviction or you have a “hard suspension” waiting period due to a prior DWI arrest or conviction.
A pre-conviction occupational license requires a finding of an essential need for work, school, or carrying out necessary household functions such as going to medical appointments or attending religious services. Depending on the court, a judge may impose specific restrictions, such as keeping a log journal of the times and places traveled, as well as geographic and time restrictions. The petitioner must also maintain SR-22 Insurance while the occupational license is effective and provide proof to the court.
A post-conviction occupational license is more lenient in its requirements. The petition to obtain an occupational license can be filed in the court in which the person was convicted of DWI. Generally, no essential need or SR-22 is required so long as the petitioner has valid insurance.
How do you get an occupational license after your license gets suspended?
You must visit the appropriate court in the county where your license was suspended, petition for an occupational license, and pay the filing fee. Though this may be done individually, it is best to hire an attorney to ensure the requirements are met and the filing is done properly. After obtaining a signed order from the court granting an occupational license, you must then provide the Texas DPS with a certified occupational license petition and the court order, and, either SR-22 Insurance for a pre-conviction occupational driver’s license or regular Insurance for a post-conviction occupational driver’s license. You may also be required to provide additional suspension documents, a driver’s license reinstatement fee, or a $10.00 occupational license fee.
Can you get a DWI conviction off your record?
No. Texas provides that a conviction on any intoxicated related offense is not eligible for deferred adjudication. Though DWI offenses can be probated to avoid jail time, a guilty plea or verdict will still result in a conviction. The only way to obtain an expunction on a DWI is if the case is dismissed or the accused is found Not Guilty at trial.
What is the difference between a first DWI and a second DWI?
A first time DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of up to $2,000, jail time from 72 hours to 180 days, and a license suspension of 90 to 365 days. However, Texas law has recently changed to make a first time DWI offense, where the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .15 or higher, a Class A misdemeanor.
A second DWI is a Class A misdemeanor, regardless of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The range of punishment is a maximum fine of $4,000, jail time from 0 to 365 days, and a license suspension of 180 days to 2 years. There is also a mandatory 180-day “hard suspension” to petition for an occupational driver’s license on a DWI repetition.
What happens if I get a third DWI?
A third DWI become a 3rd Degree Felony with a fine up to $10,000, 2 to 10 years in jail time, and a license suspension of 180 days to 2 years. Any jail sentence may also be probated up to 10 years. If you have received two occupational driver’s licenses within the past 10 years, you are not eligible to petition for an occupational.
Depending on the county, you may be eligible for an alcohol and substance abuse program for felony offenders. Some counties have a Felony Alcohol Intervention Program (FAIP), which is designed to help those who are charged with a felony DWI.
What actions can I take before sentencing that may give you better chances of lowering probation or jail time for a DWI?
To better your chances of lowering probation or jail time for a DWI, consider taking a DWI education class, a victim impact panel, and a substance abuse evaluation. Courts like to see you take measures that indicate you take the matter seriously and are proactively trying to make sure this doesn’t happen again. For the Texas DPS, adults who are convicted of DWI may be required to: (1) Attend an Alcohol Education Program; and/or (2) Complete a 12-hour class in an authorized Alcohol Education Program within 180 days from date of conviction to avoid a license revocation. Further, if you are charged with a second DWI, you must attend a DWI education program for “repeat offenders”. This standardized program is 32 hours in length and is designed to tackle alcohol or drug related problems that the first offender program did not address. Though nothing is guaranteed, completing these classes prior to conviction may help reduce your sentence.
What is a DWI Education Class?
A DWI Education Class is a standardized 12-hour course that addresses topics such as the effects of alcohol and plans to prevent a re-occurrence of a DWI. The court will usually provide a list of classes that are approved in the area.
What is a Victim Impact Panel?
A victim impact panel can be found through MADD.org. The purpose of the Victim Impact Panel (VIP) program is to help DWI/DUI offenders understand the effects of substance impaired driving on victims, leave an impression on them that will change their thinking and behavior, and prevent more offenses from occurring in the future.
What is a Substance Abuse Evaluation?
A substance abuse evaluation requires the defendant to get testing and counseling to ensure the defendant does not have a drug or alcohol problem and currently are not taking any intoxicating substances.