A driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction affects your personal life, career, and those around you. The court could sentence you to probation and order you to enroll in an education program for drunk-driving offenders as one of the probationary conditions. This program is commonly known as a DWI class.
While it may be time-consuming, DWI classes are a lesser sentence than jail time. If you or your loved one has been arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated with alcohol or drugs, it is your right to seek legal representation. Your lawyer could fight and have your case dismissed or obtain lenient penalties like DWI classes.
Hire a competent attorney from Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer for thorough representation. Our lawyers have in-depth experience with developing strong defense strategies. We have helped many clients fight DWI charges, navigate driving while intoxicated classes, and other further sentencing conditions. Call us today for a consultation and discuss your case.
Overview of Texas DWI Classes
A first offense DWI is a class B misdemeanor. But if you are convicted of the crime, you will be subject to more penalties and conditions than if you were found guilty of any other standard misdemeanor. Even when you are sentenced to probation for a first DWI crime, the judge might issue a directive that you enroll in an education program particularly designed for persons found guilty of driving while intoxicated.
Per the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) § 42A.403, you must complete the DWI classes the court orders in a hundred and eighty days of your sentence. The judge can select a program for you. Alternatively, you could find them from any third-party that offers DWI education courses. Should you choose to go the third-party way, the party has to be ratified by the relevant agencies, including:
- The (DPS) Department of Public Safety
- The TDLR (Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation
- The TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- The TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation
The Goal of DWI Classes
Texas is struggling to solve the ongoing driving while intoxicated crisis. In 2015, the state was ranked first in the number of drunk-driving deaths throughout the country, a title it maintained in 2016. Texas lawmakers have tried to curb DWI with strict laws. The laws have increased sentencing conditions, and one of the added conditions is DWI classes.
DWI classes aim to end the unpleasant cycle of intoxicated driving. Before, DWI offenders merely served their sentences without undergoing any rehabilitation. However, this didn’t seem effective enough, so the state has enforced an education program condition for drunk-driving offenders. These classes center on the damaging nature of driving while intoxicated and the risks of drug or alcohol abuse.
Additionally, DWI classes encourage offenders not to commit multiple DWI crimes. The court will require you to pay for the whole class. Generally, a DWI program could range between $90 and $125. If you are a multiple DWI offender, the classes might be more costly. Your driving privilege will also be revoked until you’re successfully done with your classes.
Topics Covered in DWI Classes
Below we list the various subjects covered in driving while intoxicated classes:
- Familiarity with DWI laws in Texas
- Problems related to drug & alcohol abuse
- The penalties of a driving-while-intoxicated offense
- How alcohol & drugs affect your vehicle operation
- Chemical dependency & its impacts
- Sources of dependency
- Signs and symptoms of dependency
- Recovering from substance dependency
- Making the right decisions about consuming alcoholic beverages
- The impact that alcohol & drugs have on one’s body
- The cost of a DWI crime to the offender
DWI Class Types
Texas splits DWI classes per criminal history. In case it’s your first drunk-driving offense, your DWI class will have up to twelve hours. Usually, classes are conducted in a period of three to four days. Alternatively, you could complete the classes online. Classes for first-time offenders typically range between $90 and $125.
If you are a multiple DWI offender, you will have to attend a more costly DWI class. DWI classes for multiple offenders take thirty-two hours and are conducted in seven weeks. It is also more expensive than the DWI classes for first-time offenders at about $300.
A minor convicted of a DWI crime as a juvenile might also be mandated to enroll in a DWI education program. Here, the classes are approximately six hours long and could be completed within two days. It is the least pricey of all the DWI classes at $60.
Note that regardless of which class you’re required to take, you have to pay for it yourself. Most of the schools that offer these classes will make payment arrangements with you, so you don’t have to pay the entire fees before starting the class. However, ensure you pay the full fees by the time you are done with the classes. You won’t be given your certificate of completion until the entire fee is paid. The classes are offered in both English and Spanish.
Other Reasons to Participate in a DWI Class
Below are additional circumstances under which you might be compelled to participate in a drug or alcohol education program:
- Pre-trial situations
- Parole requirements
- By the judge’s order
- Texas Driver’s license reinstatement
- For educational purposes
- Employment (usually if you have failed a drug test at the workplace)
- Child custody and family law (a family court or Child Protection Service may need you to participate
What Should You Bring to a Driving-While-Intoxicated Class?
If you are ordered to participate in a driving-while-intoxicated educational program at any facility, you will be mandated to carry a few things with you to the classroom. All of the items you are required to carry are mandatory to process your taking part in the DWI education program. If you are completing your sessions online, you will have to submit the items to the appropriate location. The documents you will require to attend a DWI class are:
- Case number
- Your valid driver’s license or its number
- Social security number
- Paperwork of the court order to enroll in DWI classes
Note that the DWI course instructor ought to have your name on a list. However, ensure you carry with you all the documents listed above every time, just in case.
What Happens If You Do Not Attend the DWI Classes?
DWI classes aren’t optional. If the judge ordered you to enroll in these classes, you would be legally obligated to do so. Additionally, as we mentioned, you have to complete the education program within a hundred and eighty days of the court order. If you fail to attend classes or complete the course on time, you will be subject to administrative punishments. In this case, the state’s Department of Public Safety will either:
- Bar you from acquiring a driver’s license,
- Revoke your license,
- Cancel your probation, or
- Disqualify you from parole
Your driving privilege will only be reinstated after you have completed your DWI program. This means that failure to complete the program or missing classes will prolong the process of having your driving privilege reinstated. Additionally, you will be prohibited from acquiring a professional license.
If you failed to attend your DWI classes for one reason or the other, you have to act fast since you may be rearrested. The first step you ought to take is to reach out to a skilled DWI defense lawyer to advise on what you should do next. Your lawyer may help you avoid facing the consequences we have mentioned above. He/she may go to court and request the judge to cancel the arrest warrant, so you do not have to suffer the embarrassment of being arrested before your co-workers or family. Your attorney may also be capable of showing the court that financial hardship or other pressing issues prevented you from completing your classes and request the judge to grant you an extension.
Offender Education Programs
There are different types of offender education programs offered in Texas DWI schools. They are:
Drug Offender Education: Drug Offender Education is a standard education program that is approximately fifteen hours long. The program is meant to teach drug offenders about the various dangers of abusing drugs, identify the patterns of drug use of the individual offender, and help the offender develop an action plan to minimize future drug conduct. Course topics may include gaining control of one’s well-being after abusing drugs, health problems related to drug use, harmful drug behaviors, Texas drug laws, cost of using or abusing drugs, and the effects of drug abuse.
Alcohol Programs for Minors in Possession: This is a standard program that is six hours long. It’s designed to assist minors in improving their knowledge of alcohol and drugs. The topics under this program include the impact alcohol advertising has on children, decision-making abilities in relation to young adult addiction and abuse, and laws in Texas related to possession, consumption, or purchase of drugs.
DWI Intervention: DWI Intervention is a thirty-two-hour standard program meant for offenders bearing multiple driving-while-intoxicated convictions. The program intervenes in the offender’s drug and alcohol abuse lifestyle. It encourages entry into various treatment programs, if necessary, and learning to prevent any further issues relating to drug or alcohol abuse. Specific topics under this program include:
- Relapse prevention,
- Chemical dependency,
- Lifestyle problems,
- Treatment options,
- Twelve-Step Self-Help Groups and its benefits,
- The psychological and physiological effects of alcohol & drugs,
- Avoiding peer pressure,
- How alcohol abuse affects family members and
- Problem-solving and planning for the future to prevent another DWI conviction.
DWI Education: This is a standard program that is twelve-hours long. It is meant to assist DWI offenders in increasing their knowledge about drugs and alcohol and how they relate to their vehicle operation skills. Helping pinpoint an offender’s drug or alcohol use and auto operation patterns enables him/her to develop an action plan that reduces the possibility of future driving while intoxicated behaviors. Topics covered here are alcohol & driving abilities, the effect of alcohol consumption on individuals, chemical dependency, the cost of driving while intoxicated, symptoms and signs of chemical dependency, and decision-making skills of a DWI offender.
Circumstances Under Which You Won’t Need to Take DWI Classes
Many people have asked if there is a way you can persuade the prosecution or judge out of the requirement to participate in a DWI education program. This is not possible as long as you have received a sentence that requires you to do so. Remember, we mentioned that DWI classes are not your choice, and they aren’t optional either. If the court orders you to participate, then that is what you must do. We have only three rare scenarios where you won’t have to take the DWI classes. They include:
- If you plead guilty and serve your sentence in jail (usually thirty to ninety days).
- If you have a trial by jury and win.
- If the court dismisses your case because the law enforcement officers violated your rights during the arrest
How the Completion of Your DWI Education Program Is Reported
After completing your DWI course, you will be given a certificate immediately. You’ll also be issued with a Participant Copy for your records. After that, a DPS copy of all your certificates will be mailed to the central DPS office in ten business days of the program completion. If your case is still pending or has to be sent to an outside agency/probation officer, the course instructor will send a copy of your certificate to the mentioned parties as a courtesy. However, for the course instructor to do so, you have to provide them with the parties’ updated contact info, preferably a fax number or email address. If you’re on probation, you have to give the instructor the name of your probation officer.
Ensure you make a copy of your certificate for your records. If you provided your email address, the course instructor might also email you a scanned copy of the certificate for your own records within one week of completing your course. If you lose your original certificate, most schools can have another duplicated at a fee.
Note that most DWI schools do not permit absences. In case you miss one session, you have to retake your course from the start. Also, there aren’t any make-up classes. This isn’t just the DWI schools’ policy, but it’s a regulation provided by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. If you must retake the program, you’ll be required to do it at a fee.
Also, certain schools do not permit phone use in the class during the instruction period. You can use your mobile phone after or before class and during the designated class breaks. Using your mobile phone during instruction periods is a reason for dismissal from the program. You’ll be compelled to retake the program at a fee.
Avoiding DWI Convictions by taking DWI Classes
If you are charged with driving while intoxicated, you need to fight the charges to avoid attending DWI classes and evade other penalties. Other consequences for drunk-driving apart from DWI classes include:
- License suspension/revocation
- Jail/prison time
- Scram bracelets
- Fees and fines
- Ignition interlock
- Licenses renewal charges from the Texas Department of Public Safety at $1,040 every year for three years
- Enhanced punishments based on who the victim was for any auto crash purportedly caused or caused by driving while intoxicated
- Several collateral consequences, which can affect your entire life. Collateral consequences are great repercussions for a DWI conviction outside of the punishments outlined by law, for instance:
- Being incapable of finding and maintaining a decent job, including occupations requiring an occupational license (e.g., medical license, nursing license, or pilot’s license) or security clearance.
- Being incapable of providing for your loved ones and maintaining your children’s custody.
- Being incapable of voting.
- Being unable to possess, own, or use firearms.
- Being incapable of obtaining a mortgage, education loans, rent a house or apartment, etc.
Even after paying your debt to society by completing your sentence or DWI education program successfully, you’ll still pay the price via the collateral consequences. If you are a first DWI offender with a blood test or breath test, you could qualify for nondisclosure or expunction. And if you’re a felony offender, you will lose your constitutional rights to own and use firearms and vote for your leaders. These rights could be reinstated to a given extent, but it’s a time-consuming and challenging process. Essentially, a Texas DWI conviction carries more than just DWI classes— it’s baggage you’ll bear for your entire life. Challenging the charges is the only option.
Most alleged offenders ask how they can challenge DWI charges if a blood or breath test indicates they were illegally intoxicated. Well, there are two primary things you should know:
- Driving-while-intoxicated charges can be defended against even if there’s alleged proof showing that you were unlawfully intoxicated.
- You’re innocent until the court proves you guilty, and your attorney will work to either substantiate your innocence. If that’s not possible, he/she may weaken the prosecution’s case, so a conviction doesn’t happen.
Even though driving while intoxicated is a criminal case like other crimes, it’s a specialized matter requiring an in-depth understanding of the statutes, and tests conducted to be used as supposed proof, policies, and practices concerns driving while intoxicated, and the legal/court system. There are several intersections in DWI cases, so your DWI defense lawyer should know what they are and how they work. Not only that. Your attorney has to know how to apply that knowledge and insight to your advantage.
Most lawyers don’t know how to investigate your case or interpret breath/blood tests properly, and that is an issue since blood/breath tests can be problematic. Most lawyers want to settle through a plea deal with the advice that it’s the right thing to do considering the evidence. However, if you seek the services of a certified lawyer who has resources, experience, and insight, they would know what evidence to find and obtain the best possible outcome.
Each case is unique and will require a specific defense strategy to be successful. There are several ways through which driving while intoxicated charges can be challenged. Below are the various successful defense strategies:
- Representing you at the ALR (Administrative License Revocation) hearing to collect critical proof upon which to develop your court case and help you keep your driving privilege.
- Challenging the field sobriety tests, blood tests, breath tests, Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), and their results.
- Arguing the violation of constitutional rights by law enforcement officers, like their failure to have reasonable cause or suspicion to stop you and improper search & seizures.
- Moving to suppress proof or exclude the witnesses’ testimonies
- Challenging the witnesses’ testimonies, including the testimony of the law enforcement officers
- Using the police report to establish key information and contesting the officers’ recollections and appropriate way to administer the law.
- If a crash happened, proving it wasn’t your fault.
Ultimately, DWI defenses are one thing. Understanding the DWI laws, common defenses, and being capable of strategically putting them together are another. Only a DWI lawyer that can do the latter successfully. It isn’t about whether you’ll win your case with a competent attorney — it is about How they will win it.
Find a Skilled DWI Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you face DWI charges in Fort Worth, Texas, you might receive harsh penalties. You need a skilled DWI attorney from Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer to help you from the beginning of your case to the end. We will do everything in our power to ensure you obtain the best possible results for your case, including a case dismissal.
If a dismissal isn’t possible, we can help negotiate for a lesser sentence like probation and a DWI class or a program instead of jail or hefty fines. We believe that all our clients deserve aggressive and robust defense for their DWI cases, which we will strive to accomplish that for you. Contact us today at 817-470-2128 for a consultation concerning your charges.