Texas has some of the harshest laws punishing those convicted of drunk driving of any state in the country. Additionally, a DWI conviction remains permanently on your criminal record, and your insurance rates will certainly increase, or possibly your insurance will carrier will cancel your policy. For these reasons, if you have been arrested for DWI, it is important to have your case reviewed by an experienced Fort Worth DWI lawyer.
Under Texas law, you are intoxicated if you do not have normal use of your mental or physical faculties due to the ingestion of alcohol, drugs or some other substance or if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. That means you can be charged with a DWI if you had a BAC of less than 0.08 but were impaired, or, alternatively, you exhibited no signs of impairment but registered more than 0.08 on a breath or blood test. For drivers under 21 years old, Texas is a zero tolerance state, which means the maximum allowable BAC is 0.00. A driver who has a trace amount of alcohol in his or her system but shows no signs of impairment could be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) as an alternative to DWI.
It is important to note that the most important factor affecting the potential penalties you face are the facts and circumstances involved in your case. Consequently, the following are merely general guidelines for most drivers where property damage or personal injury is not a factor:
- First offense: three to 180 days in jail, up to $2000 in fines and penalties, 90 -365 days license suspension
- Second offense: 30 days to one year in jail, up to $4000 in fines and penalties, 180 days to 2 years license suspension, installation of an interlock ignition device
- Third offense: minimum two years in jail, up to $10,000 in fines and penalties, 180 days to 2 years license suspension, installation of an interlock ignition device
Unlike many states that have a limited look-back period, a Texas conviction stays on your record permanently so even if your prior offense was 25 years ago, the new one will be considered a repeat offense. Prior Texas law allowed a DWI conviction to drop off one’s record after 10 years.
Terms of Probation
In addition to fines, fees and license suspension, most DWI cases involve some or all of the following: alcohol evaluation, completion of an approved DWI education class, completion of a victim impact panel, maintain employment, commit no crimes, abstain from alcohol consumption, monthly report to supervisory office, pay monthly supervision fee and perform a specified number of community service hours.
Administrative License Revocation
In addition to the criminal proceeding that is initiated upon your arrest for DWI, a separate, civil administrative process begins. You have 15 days from the time you were cited for DWI to request an ALR hearing. Failure to do so results in an automatic license suspension. Again, this is independent of the criminal case against you.
Implied Consent Laws
Under Texas law, if you are arrested for DWI, you are deemed to have consented to submitting to the taking of a breath or blood sample to determine your BAC. It is noteworthy that this implied consent, as it is known as, is effective only after arrest. The breath test you may be asked to perform in the field after you have been stopped by law enforcement prior to arrest is entirely voluntary.
A police officer, however, is highly unlikely to inform you that this test may be legally refused, and although you can refuse the test, the officer may nonetheless arrest you based on other observations and conclusions. A refusal of the mandatory test can result in an 180-day license suspension for a first offense and two years for subsequent refusals.
Contact a Fort Worth DWI Lawyer for Legal Advice
An experienced lawyer can contest many points in a DWI case; an arrest does not automatically result in a conviction. To explore your options, call Bryan P. Hoeller, a Fort Worth DWI attorney, at (877) 208-3382.