The effects of a DWI conviction in Texas weigh differently on each person. Sentences vary depending on the circumstances of your arrest and your previous history. Whether you’re a first-time offender or have been previously convicted of DWI, the consequences are severe in Texas. These consequences can be pretty harsh to the extent of making it difficult to keep your job or find sustainable housing.
Fortunately, being arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated does not guarantee a conviction. There is a possibility of beating a Texas DWI if you hire an attorney to protect your rights. Simultaneously, a DWI attorney gives you a clear understanding of the charges you’re facing and their implications. Read and learn about the differences between a 1st DWI and multiple DWIs in Texas.
What You Need to Know About 1st DWI in Texas
The state of Texas takes DWI offenses seriously and can grant severe penalties even for first-time offenders. A first-time DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $2,000 and a maximum of 180 days in county jail.
You should understand that these are the minimum charges that might be leveled against you. Texas DWI laws are incredibly unpredictable and can become complicated quickly. For instance, some particular situations can escalate the penalties, fees, and jail that you’ll be facing. These situations include:
- DWI with 0.15% BAC level and above: If your blood or breath test sample shows that you were driving with a BAC level of 0.15% or above, the charges will escalate to Class A misdemeanor. Penalties for Class A misdemeanor include a maximum fine of $4,000 and custody in county jail for a maximum of one year. You can also end up being forced to install a breathalyzer in your vehicle.
- DWI with a passenger below 15 years old: If you are stopped and found to be DWI with a passenger under fifteen years, whether yours or not, your first DWI offense escalates to a felony DWI. Penalties include a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment in the state prison for 180 days to 2 years.
- Intoxication Assault: Seriously injuring another person while DWI is a third-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years in state jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- DWI causing Manslaughter: If someone dies due to your DWI, this becomes a second-degree punishable by 2- 20 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
A conviction for DWI in Texas can lead to the above-stated penalties unless you are granted probation. It will also lead to a mandatory three years in county jail, with the possibilities of community supervision, meaning that you’ll be sentenced to some form of community service.
Based on the judge’s ruling, the court might subject you to further conditions like attending a state-approved rehabilitation facility if you are an alcoholic. You might also have to attend DWI school, a 12-hour course that you must finish within 180 days of probation. Failing to participate in this school might have your driver’s license revoked until you complete the course.
The worst thing about a first-time DWI conviction in Texas is the civil consequences you might have to face. The court could suspend your driver’s license up to 180 days if you refuse to take a breath test and up to 90 days if the test results were above 0.08%.
You will also have to incur additional expenses like a reinstatement fee of $125 to renew or reinstate your driver’s license. You’ll also have to pay a DWI surcharge from the Texas Department of Transportation worth $1,000 for three years to be paid annually.
Collateral Consequences for First Time DWI
There are other consequences for the first-time DWI apart from those outlined by Texas DWI laws. Here are some of the common collateral consequences you will face for your first DWI conviction.
Losing Your Job
Most employers have a zero-tolerance policy on a DWI conviction. Although you’re innocent until proven guilty, your employer can let you go when arrested for DWI. This situation is common with employees working as drivers in their respective companies. Apart from that, it can be hard to find another job since your conviction will appear in your criminal history once a criminal history background check is made on you while applying for a job.
Inability to Find Safe Housing
Property owners usually run a criminal background check on potential tenants. Therefore, your 1st DWI conviction records can significantly derail your attempt to find safe housing when a criminal background is made on you. Most landlords will not oblige to rent to you if you have a criminal record since they perceive you as a potential troublemaker.
Impact on Your Custodial Rights
After a divorce, motorists claiming custodial rights can face challenges in gaining these rights with a 1st DWI conviction on them. A DWI conviction reflects a bad judgment, and the other parent can use your DWI conviction to deny you the chance of custodial rights.
Loss of Professional License
If you rely on your professional license to make a living, your licensing entity can prohibit you from practicing if you have a DWI conviction. Some licenses that might be affected include pilot, nursing, and medical licenses.
Loss of Right to Own a Gun or Vote
Although this is not the case of a misdemeanor conviction in Texas, a DWI conviction that involves manslaughter or severe bodily injury might have you lose your fundamental rights after a conviction. You can end up losing your right to vote or firearm, which you can only regain through the Governor’s pardon, a process that’s long and costly.
What you Need to Know About Multiple DWIs in Texas
Sometimes motorists end up with multiple DWIs within a short timeframe. This usually happens when you are arrested for a DWI while there’s another pending DWI case. Every DWI case that you face in multiple charges is separate and convicted separately. Therefore, they can end up impacting your life severely if all the DWI charges you’re facing are convicted. Below are several things you need to know about multiple DWIs in Texas.
You Can Consolidate Multiple DWIs from Different Counties
It’s possible to be charged with separate DWIs in different counties. The court can consolidate your cases based on the circumstances. Your attorney can attempt to file every lawsuit as a first offense if they are from a different country. However, the court might find about the pending cases and make severe sentencing on you.
That’s why you should find a certified DWI defense attorney who has experience in most courts in Texas and knows how to handle this sensitive issue.
You might Need to Dismiss At least One Case
Considering that you’ll be facing severe penalties for every subsequent DWI, it’s in your best interest to have at least one DWI case dismissed, especially the most severe ones. That means that you must seek a professional attorney who is not all about making plea deals but would work to have at least one of your DWI dismissed before trial.
You Can Request and Attend Multiple ALR Hearings
When you are arrested for a subsequent DWI, you probably have requested or attended an Administrative license revocation hearing associated with your prior DWI arrest. ALR is a crucial part of your DWI defense strategy. Since the law allows you to request and attend these hearings, you’ll need to prepare for every hearing scheduled by your attorney. An experienced attorney will help you walk through this complicated process.
Your Attorney Should Help You Navigate the Process that Follow After Pleading Guilty in Two or More Instances
Once you’ve pled guilty to two DWIs, there might be issues with pursuing programs meant to be used as a strategic defense. Sometimes your attorney might ask you to start a program like a drug evaluation program to use as leverage in your defense. Applying this can be tricky when you have two open cases, but your attorney should use his or her skills to navigate a reliable strategy.
It Might Be not easy to pursue Deferred Adjudication
Defendants can avoid a DWI conviction on their criminal records if they complete probation. For someone to be eligible for deferred adjudication, the final charge must be something different than DWI. Most of the time, defendants plead guilty to charges like obstruction of a passageway to be eligible for deferred adjudication. This might be an easy route for a first-time offender, but it might pose some challenges to multiple DWI offenders.
Since 1983, there has been no deferred adjudication for repeat DWI offenders in Texas. There were concerns that defendants with prior DWIs would continue to drink, knowing that they will face less severe penalties through deferred adjudication. This makes it a challenging situation, especially if some of your multiple DWIs charges are felonies.
Texas Felony DWI Could Lead to Prison for Life
If you have a prior DWI that resulted in spending time in Texas prison, your third-degree felony could be enhanced to a second-degree felony. A single stint attracts 20-year in prison, license suspension, and a maximum fine of $10,00.
Having more than one prison sentence could lead to 25 years to life and driver license suspension for two years. More than two prison sentences in state prison mean that you probably have been convicted for a fifth-time DWI.
Multiple DWIs Might Give You a Habitual Traffic Offender Status
In Texas, motorists arrested for several DWI offenses within one- or two-year period are deemed Habitual Traffic Offenders. Once you are considered a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO), the Texas Department of Traffic safety will revoke your driver’s license. When you have two or more convictions for violation offenses related to your restriction printed on your driver’s license, you will be subject to a disqualification or suspension of your license.
Difference Between 1st and Multiple DWIs in Texas
There is a lot of difference between 1st and multiple DWIs in Texas. These differences arise from the penalties that result from a successful conviction. Multiple DWIs involve second, third, and other subsequent DWI offenses. Here is a brief overview of the liabilities resulting from these offenses.
Penalties for a Second DWI in Texas
A second DWI in Texas attracts severe penalties than a first one. If you are convicted for a second DWI, you’ll face punishment like:
- A minimum of thirty days in jail or a minimum of five days if granted probation.
- A maximum fine of $4,000.
- Driver’s license suspension for 180 days to 2 years.
- A three-year annual surcharge fee of a maximum of $2,000 if you want to retain your driver’s license.
- Mandatory installation of an IID in all your vehicles.
When a second DWI conviction is compared with a first DWI, there is an increase of $2,000 on the maximum fine that you can face and an increase of driver’s license suspension to two years.
Penalties for a Third DWI in Texas
A third DWI carries harsher penalties than a first and a second DWI. This offense is considered a third-degree felony punishable by:
- A maximum of ten years of imprisonment, or a minimum of ten days in jail if probation is granted.
- A maximum fine of $10,000.
- Driver’s license suspension for a maximum of two years.
- Payment of a maximum of $2,000 as surcharging fee to keep your driver’s license for three years.
When a third DWI is compared with a 1st DWI, defendants can end up facing imprisonment for ten years, unlike the county jail custody in a first offense. The amount supposed to be paid as a fine also rises from $2,000 to $10,000.
The difference in Probation for 1st DWI and Multiple DWI Conviction
A second DWI probation can last up to two years in Texas, while a third or subsequent DWI can last up to ten years. During the probation, you might require to do the following:
- Complete a DWI intervention program for repeat offenders.
- Complete an alcohol or substance abuse evaluation.
- Complete a community service that lasts between 80 to 200 hours for a second DWI. In a third or subsequent DWI, probation lasts between 160 and 600 hours.
- Refraining from committing any crimes.
- Refraining from consuming alcohol.
- Submitting to random alcohol or drug testing.
- Serving a maximum of 180 days as a condition of probation.
The terms of a first DWI probation in Texas are more lenient than those for multiple DWI convictions. At this point, the offender must follow strict rules that can last for a maximum of two hours.
The Difference in Expungement of 1st and Multiple DWIs in Texas
DWI convictions in Texas cannot be sealed or expunged. The only thing that you can help you is meeting the following criteria:
- The court returned a not guilty verdict.
- The case was dismissed.
- You were arrested as a minor.
- Your BAC didn’t exceed 0.15%.
- You have never been convicted of another crime.
- You have completed all your probation terms or criminal sentences, including payment of restitution and fines.
- Your DWI didn’t result in an accident or injury to another person.
Please note that you must also satisfy the state’s mandatory waiting period to seal your DWI conviction to be eligible for a DWI criminal sealing. You’d have to comply with a mandatory two-year waiting period if you had to install an ignition interlock device as part of your sentence and have driven for at least six months with an IID restriction. A five-year waiting period applies if your sentence didn’t include an IID installation requirement.
First-time DWI offenders have higher chances of sealing their DWI records than multiple DWI offenders as long as they meet the requirements mentioned above. Multiple DWI offenders are only eligible for an expungement if they successfully dismissed all the prior DWI charges or haven’t received a guilty verdict.
Factors that Can Stop You from Expunging Your DWI Records
Although there are chances of expunging your DWI records, the court might decide to block your attempt to expunge your DWI records whether you’re facing a 1st time DWI or multiple DWIs. Some of these factors include:
- Flying an aircraft while intoxicated.
- Selling alcohol to a minor.
- Operating an amusement park while you’re intoxicated.
- Possession or consumption of alcohol as a minor.
The court can also block your attempt to seal your records if you are convicted or placed on deferred adjudication probation for the following crimes:
- Capital murder
- An offense that requires registration as a sex offender
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Endangering or abandoning a minor
- Any crime that involves sexual abuse or assault, trafficking case, and family violence
Hire A Fort Worth DWI Lawyer Near Me
At the Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer, we strive to minimize your DWI penalties by building a strong defense strategy. We will carefully evaluate your case and find answers to crucial questions about your case, like was there any probable cause for your traffic stop? Was the breath test properly administered? And many more. We will do everything to protect your rights and guarantee your freedom. Call us today at 817-470-2128 and learn how we can help you.