You’ve received a DWI and aren’t sure what to do. Maybe you are wondering about the difference between a DUI and a DWI. It was only a few drinks, how bad could it be?
Between 2009-2018 there were 13,592 people were killed in Texas as a result of a drunk driver. A DWI charge in Texas has severe consequences, even for a first offense.
The fact is, for any alcohol-related charge you need a DWI Austin Attorney. We are going to explain the difference between DUI and DWI. We will then give you seven reasons why it is important to hire a DWI lawyer.
The Difference Between DUI and DWI
The charges of DUI and DWI both involve the consumption of alcohol or drugs and operating a vehicle under the influence. The distinction between the two is usually the driver’s age.
If you are over 21 and have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, or are on drugs, the charge will be DWI. If you are under 21 and have any amount of alcohol or drugs in your system, you will usually receive a DUI charge. An exception is an underage person with a 008 or higher BAC of 0.08 will receive the adult charge of DWI.
1. DWI Cases are Difficult
When you receive a DWI, your BAC will play a huge part in what plea bargain, if any, is offered. Your past criminal history, especially drunk driving charges, will affect the plea offers, penalties, and fines you incur.
Your DWI attorney will know your rights during traffic stops. They will have the legal knowledge when reviewing the police report and BAC results to know if there are any legal loopholes. If any exist, they will know how to challenge the prosecution’s evidence.
Even if there are no holes in the prosecution’s case, your attorney will know how to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney to obtain you the best possible plea bargain. A lower charge will reduce your fines and penalties.
2. Legal Knowledge
Your Austin attorney will know Texas laws regarding DUI and DWI charges and are familiar with the negotiation process. They are knowledgeable about deadlines, including requesting the restoration of your driver’s license.
When reviewing the police report and your BAC level, they will explain to you what type of consequences you are facing. They will advise what actions they plan to take in your defense.
3. Demand Discovery
When it comes to making discovery demands, your DUI attorney in Austin will issue demands for discovery from the prosecution. This can be anything from witness statements, an officer’s bodycam footage, dash-cam video footage, and more.
If the prosecution hesitates in providing the requested information, your lawyer will know how to properly write a motion and appear before the judge for an order forcing the prosecution to provide the requested items.
4. Assistance with Drivers License Restoration
When you have a DWI, you risk both short-term and long-term suspension of your driver’s license. These restrictions are in addition to the consequences you incur in the criminal court for violating the law.
In Texas, a first-time DWI offense can result in a suspension of 90-365 days. If this is a second or subsequent offense, you are likely looking at a 6-24 month suspension.
You may also be required to attend an alcohol education program, pay a reinstatement fee, have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle to drive, and more. If you hold a commercial driver’s license and obtain a DWI, your CDL will be disqualified.
When you receive a charge for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speak with your DWI Austin attorney about driver license enforcement actions that may be taken against you. They will explain the steps necessary to get your driver’s license back.
5. Knowledge of Court Procedures
Every court and every judge has specifics about the way they conduct court. There are deadlines, special forms, and proper legal format for preparing documents for the court. There are specific requirements for the handling of all documents. This includes providing proof of service regarding the distribution of every document.
If you fail to follow proper steps or meet deadlines, it can have a severe impact on your case. This includes the preparation of witness lists and evidence lists for your case to be presented in court.
If you subpoena witnesses the appropriate form and process must be followed. This includes serving the subpoena on the witness and providing notification to opposing counsel and the court.
When you hire an Austin DWI attorney they will be familiar with the local judge’s court preferences and the state legal requirements for your case. They will be able to advise you on what steps to take before court to put yourself in the best position possible.
6. Trial Experience
According to the 2019 Mothers Against Drunk Driving Court Monitoring Report out of 4,387 misdemeanor drunk driving cases, 2,338 were found guilty, 10 were non-guilty, and 426 were dismissed. While the majority of cases result in a guilty plea to the original or a reduced charge, some cases do go to trial.
If your case goes to trial, your Austin attorney will be familiar with all trial procedures and deadlines. This includes the subpoena of witnesses, submission of evidence, and how to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. They will know how to locate qualified professional witnesses if necessary, and how to conduct the selection of jurors.
7. Reduction of Penalties
When you obtain a DWI, the consequences are severe. Your DWI attorney will work to obtain a plea bargain and reduce your penalties and fines, which include:
First Offense DWI
- Fine of up to $2,000
- Jail sentence of 3-180 days
- Up to 12 months loss of driving privileges
You will also need to pay annual licensing fees for three years of $1,000-$2,000 per year
Second Offense DWI
- Fine of up to $4,000
- Jail sentence of 30-365 days
- Up to 24 months loss of driving privileges
You will also need to pay an annual licensing fee for three years of up to $2,000 per year
Third Offense DWI
- Fine of up to $10,000
- Prison sentence of 2-10 years
- Loss of driver’s license
There will also be an annual fee to obtain and maintain a driver’s license
Why You Need to Hire a DWI Austin Attorney
You now know the consequences of a DWI First Offense in Texas, including loss of license, high fines, and time in jail. Subsequent drunk driving charges come with higher penalties. Whether this is your first, second, or fifth DWI, you need to hire a DWI Austin attorney.
When you contact the office of James Fletcher, Attorney at (512) 279-6600, you are consulting with an attorney who has the experience and legal knowledge in this offense. Don’t hesitate, contact us for assistance with your drunk driving charge today.