So you went out with some friends after work for a drink. Several hours later (and several drinks in) you realize that it’s time to be getting home. You figure that even though you were drinking, your house is only a few minutes away so you should be okay to drive home. No big deal, right? Wrong. This one decision can potentially change your life forever.
Driving after a night of drinking is the last thing that you should be doing. If you’ve had too much to drink, be responsible and take an Uber. The last thing you need is to get in an accident and hurt someone (or yourself!) while driving drunk.
Continue reading to learn what happens once you’re arrested for a first offense DWI in Texas.
What Is a DWI?
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a crime that will require a criminal defense attorney to get you through it due to the complexity of laws regarding drunk driving.
A DWI occurs when an individual is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and decides to put themselves in a position to operate a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle in a DWI refers to any type of motorized vehicle including cars, trucks, heavy machinery, and even boats.
Drinking too much alcohol can cause your body and your brain to stop functioning correctly. This means that your reaction time is slower, your judgment is impaired, and concentrating on the task at hand (driving) is not at the forefront of your brain. Driving while intoxicated is asking for trouble.
It is possible to get charged with a DWI even if you are sleeping off your drunkenness in the driver’s seat of your vehicle. You can get charged with a DWI when recklessly using a valid prescription medication meaning that you are abusing the purpose of the prescription.
When law enforcement pulls you over for reckless driving (swerving or blowing through a stop sign), you will have to perform a series of field sobriety tests to prove that you are not intoxicated. This might include:
- Following a pen or light to check for jerky eye movement in response to stimuli
- Walking in a straight line, heel to toe, and then turning while following the directions perfectly
- Standing on one leg without swaying or dropping your leg until you’re told to do so
If you fail these tests, the officer will ask you to perform a breathalyzer test to check your BAC. If you aren’t sure whether or not you will blow more than 0.08% on a breathalyzer, you can refuse to take the test. However, there is a chance that you may still be arrested on suspicion of a DWI. This means you can still end up in jail.
Losing Your License
Due to Texas’ Implied Consent Law, when you get arrested under suspicion of intoxicated operation of a motorized vehicle, you are consenting to a chemical test. If you do refuse to submit to a chemical test (breathalyzer, blood, or urine) to prove that you haven’t been drinking or using drugs, you may lose your driver’s license.
The arresting police officer has a right to confiscate your driver’s license. You will be given a “Notice of Suspension” which acts as your temporary driver’s license. You have 15 days following your arrest to file an appeal. If you don’t take action, you will lose your license for at least 90 days (beginning on the 42nd day following your arrest).
If you are charged with a DWI after refusing to submit to a chemical test, you will lose your license for at least 180 days. The only way to avoid losing your license is with an acquittal stating that you weren’t driving while intoxicated.
In Texas, first-time offenders may be eligible to obtain an “occupational license” so that they can still drive in certain situations, including:
- Going to and from work
- Going to and from school
- Taking children to and from school
- Attending doctor’s appointments
To be eligible for this license, you must meet certain financial responsibility criteria and have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in every vehicle you will operate. An IID is like a breathalyzer test and will not allow the engine to start if you have any trace of drugs or alcohol in your system.
As part of the Texas Driver Responsibility Program, you will have to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 every year for three years following the reinstatement of your license.
Additional DWI Penalties
In addition to the license suspension, a DWI charge comes with additional penalties for your crime. First-time offenders will likely face a Class B Misdemeanor for DWI. Class B Misdemeanors punishment might include:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- Up to $2,000 in fines
However, if your BAC was 0.15% or higher, it can easily become a Class A Misdemeanor. For a Class A Misdemeanor, you might face:
- Up to one year in jail
- Up to $4,000 in fines
Though it depends on your individual situation, in most cases, your judge will put you on probation rather than serving jail time. A probation violation, however, could cost your freedom. If you are found to violate your probation parameters, the judge can file for a Motion to Adjudicate Probation meaning that they can change their mind and rethink the conditions of your probation.
If you got probation rather than jail time, make sure that you:
- Don’t avoid your court dates
- Don’t get arrested
- Don’t default on restitution payments
- Don’t use drugs or drink alcohol
A first offense DWI may also require you to complete a DWI education program along with community service.
First Offense DWI in Texas
The Texas DWI laws are complicated, so if you are struggling with a first offense DWI in Texas, you should get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney before moving forward. With our legal advice, we can help you to reduce your charges and minimize your sentence so that you can move forward with your life.
One mistake shouldn’t cost you your freedom. Let us help you get your life back on track. Contact Hamilton Grant Attorney at Law today to get started.