What You Can Expect From Your First Houston DWI Offense
A person can be convicted of driving while intoxicated, also known as DWI, in Texas if operating an automotive vehicle in a public area when intoxicated. Boating when intoxicated, also known as BWI, is also an illegal act in the state of Texas. At Butler Law, we understand how to properly navigate these dangerous waters.
“Intoxicated” is a state when you are either:
- lacking the normal use of your physical or mental faculties because of alcohol, drug, or other substance consumption, or
- undergoing a blood alcohol test and having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more, typically known as a “per se” DWI.
When you are arrested for the majority of crimes, there are not any penalties unless you are convicted of the offense either by being found guilty via trial or by entering a plea. If, however, you are arrested lawfully for a DWI offense, there can be administrative consequences. The administrative consequences include license suspension and financial penalties regardless of whether or not you are convicted of the crime. If you are convicted of a DWI, you will face further criminal penalties.
This article provides information on the different criminal and administrative penalties for a first-offense DWI in Texas.
1. The Administrative Penalties
If you are arrested for DWI offenses for the first time, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles can impose administrative removal of license penalties. If you fail a chemical test or refuse to take the test, the arresting authority has the right to confiscate your driving license immediately. An officer will issue a “notice of suspension” that operates as a form of temporary driving permit, and you will have fifteen days from the date of arrest to request a hearing for the contestation of the license suspension. If you do not request a hearing, the driving license will remain suspended for ninety days beginning on the 41st day after the arrest. If you ask for a hearing, the notice of suspension allows you to continue driving until the attendance of the hearing and the authorities reach a final decision.
If you refuse to undergo chemical tests in violation of the Texan implied consent laws, the Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend the driving license for a further 180 days after the expiration of the temporary license. The only reason why this suspension can be removed is if you are acquitted of the DWI within a criminal court during a criminal trial.
When being arrested as a first offender, you can be eligible for an “occupational license”. This is a type of license held during a suspension for driving to specific destinations, such as school and work, as well as driving to places that will help in performing household duties including stores. To gain an occupational license, you need to provide proof of financial responsibility, as well as proof that you had an ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle you operated or owned.
2. The Criminal Penalties
Typically, in Texas a first-offender DWI is a misdemeanor categorized in class B; however, if the driver presented with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent or more, the offense is categorized as a class A misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you will receive maximum financial penalties ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 with administrative fees. First-time DWI offenders can also face between 72 hours and six months in jail. If the individual has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or more when arrested, the jail sentence could be up to one year. DUI sentences can include DWI education programs, probation, and community services. For the first DWI conviction, a court will suspend the driving license for between 90 days and one year. Texas will also impose an annual license surcharge for three years ranging between $1,000 and $2,000.
3. Obtaining A Houston DWI Attorney
As can be seen, the Houston DWI legislation is complex with the facts of every case differing from the other. If you have been charged and arrested for a DWI, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced Houston DWI Attorney who can help you proceed with the case correctly.