Temple DWI Attorney
Driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is a very serious offense under Texas law, even for first-time offenders. Many people wrongly believe that they will face little if any punishment if this is their first arrest. The reality is far different.
Texas aggressively prosecutes DWI offenses, and we encourage all of those arrested to reach out to a Temple DWI attorney as soon as possible to begin crafting a defense. It is possible to hold onto your driving privileges so you can get to school or work, but you would benefit greatly from a skilled lawyer’s assistance.
Texas Law on DWI
The basic DWI law is found at Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code. It states that a person has committed DWI when they operate a vehicle in public while intoxicated.
There are two ways to qualify as intoxicated:
- Your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or higher, or
- You do not have normal use of your faculties because of alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance.
One common misconception is that you can’t be convicted of DWI if you blow a number under 0.08. As the law clearly states above, you can be convicted so long as you have any alcohol (or drugs) in your system and you cannot control the vehicle normally. The reality is that some people are impaired even with a low blood alcohol concentration. And if an officer sees you driving suspiciously, they can pull you over.
DWI with a Child Passenger
Unfortunately, some people drink and then have their child in the vehicle with them. Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger is a separate offense found at Section 49.045 of the Penal Code. If you are intoxicated while operating a vehicle in public and have a child younger than 15 with you, you can be convicted.
Drivers Under Age 21
The minimum age to purchase alcohol in Texas is 21, so someone under this age should not have consumed any alcohol. A minor can be convicted of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol by Minor if they have any alcohol or drugs in their system.
Defending against DWI Charges
Some people fear that if they blow a high number they will be automatically sent to prison. However, this isn’t always the case. Some defendants will be able to raise defenses to the charge.
For one, you might not have taken a chemical test, so the state will need to rely on the officer’s testimony or dashcam evidence. An officer’s memories are sometimes unreliable, and video might not be clear enough to tell whether you are really impaired.
Other cases might get dismissed if the officer did not have a sufficient reason to stop you. An officer can’t just pull you over because they feel like it—they need probable cause. An officer might not have witnessed any traffic offenses, so their stop could be improper, which means the evidence of any field sobriety test will be kept out of court.
Every DWI case has both an administrative and a criminal component. We believe our clients need to understand the process from start to finish so that they work effectively with their attorneys. Unfortunately, most people will end up losing their license—and this is even before they are convicted or plead guilty to the criminal charge. Our Temple DWI attorney takes a closer look at the penalties Texas imposes on those arrested.
Administrative Penalties for DWI
Many people are surprised to learn their license can be suspended even without a conviction. This is true! Anyone charged with DWI will face an automatic suspension of their driver’s license. It takes effect about 40 days from the day you were arrested.
If this is your first offense, you face a suspension lasting three months to a year. If you have a prior DWI conviction, you are facing a suspension of six months to two years.
The suspension period can be increased depending on certain factors:
- Your blood alcohol concentration
- A child under 15 in the vehicle at the time you are pulled over
- Any injury or death caused by the accident
- An open container in the vehicle
All driver’s facing DWI charges should request an Administrative License Revocation hearing within 15 days of the arrest. It is possible to argue that our clients should not lose their license at the hearing.
Criminal Penalties for DWI
The criminal penalties a person faces only apply if they are convicted or plead guilty. If they are acquitted, they will not face criminal penalties.
In Texas, the punishment will depend primarily on whether this is your first or a subsequent offense:
- First offense: Class B misdemeanor, with a mandatory minimum of 3 days in jail, maximum 180 days in jail, a $2,000 fine, and one-year license suspension.
- Second offense: Class A misdemeanor, with maximum penalties of a year in jail and a $4,000 fine, along with possible suspension of two years.
- Third offense: Third-degree felony, with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Also a two-year license suspension.
- Fourth offense: Second-degree felony, with maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and $20,000 fine, along with a license suspension.
Texas also adds a surcharge imposed at sentencing, which adds thousands of dollars a year to the fines listed here.
Certain factors can also increase the punishment. For example, even if this is your first offense, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if your blood alcohol concentration was .15 or higher
Criminal Penalties for Other DWI Offenses
Penalties increase if you had a child with you or someone was injured or killed in a DWI accident:
- DWI with a child passenger: State jail felony with 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a maximum $10,000 fine. Even higher penalties if you had a high BAC or other enhancement.
- DWI with injury: Third-degree felony where the crash causes serious bodily injury. Penalties are 2-10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine, along with a suspension lasting up to two years.
· Intoxication manslaughter: In most cases, a second-degree felony with up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
Call a Temple DWI Attorney Today!
The Law Office of Katie L. Gomez, PLLC has represented men and women in various DWI cases. We can fight to keep your license and minimize the legal fallout from the arrest. Contact our firm today to discuss your situation. All consultations are confidential. We provide zealous advocacy on behalf of those accused of driving while intoxicated. Please reach out to our firm today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.