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DWI Consequences and Penalties

Being charged with a DWI (Driving While the Intoxicated) in Texas can have severe and long-lasting consequences.  Whether it’s your first offense or a subsequent offense, the penalties can be life-altering and affect you for decades.

To protect yourself from a harmful conviction, please call the Westbrook Law Firm today.  Mr. Westbrook will help you during this challenging situation and do everything possible to obtain a dismissal or acquittal.  The ultimate goal is to avoid a life-altering conviction.

To discuss your case in further detail, please call our office at 281-888-5581 or submit an online request.

Penalty Range for a DWI Conviction

If you’re found guilty of DWI in Texas, the penalties can vary depending on the circumstances of your case.

First Offense

A first offense can result in a fine of up to $2,000 and jail time of up to 180 days.  This is charged as a Class B Misdemeanor if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over .08 and under .15.  If your BAC is over .15, the offense is enhanced to a Class A Misdemeanor.  In addition, your license can be suspended for up to one year, and you will be required to attend an alcohol education program.

Second Offense

A second DWI offense is charged as a Class A Misdemeanor.  A second DWI can result in much more serious penalties.  For a second offense, you can face fines of up to $4,000, one month to a year in jail, and the loss of your driver’s license for up to two years.

Third Offense

The consequences of a third offense can be detrimental, as this is now a Felony offense.  A third DWI conviction can lead to a fine up to $10,000, two to ten years in prison, and the loss of your license for up to two years.

Collateral Consequences of a DWI Conviction

When people think about DWI penalties, they tend to think about the legal consequences the court can impose. Importantly, a DWI conviction can also result in significant collateral consequences.  In fact, some of these collateral consequences may be worse than the legal penalties you face.

A DWI conviction can impact various aspects of your life, including:

  • Employment – A DWI conviction may result in the loss of your job or difficulties securing future employment. It can also hinder career opportunities, particularly in fields that require a clean driving record or involve driving.
  • Education – If you’re a student, a DWI conviction can lead to disciplinary action by your educational institution, including suspension or expulsion.  It can also affect your eligibility for financial aid.
  • Commercial Drivers License (CDL) – If your job requires a CDL, a DWI conviction could lead to a temporary or long-term suspension, as well as a life-long ban from re-applying for your CDL.
  • Personal Relationships – A DWI conviction can strain personal relationships, especially if it leads to financial hardships, loss of trust, or changes in custody arrangements.
  • Living Situation – Many landlords conduct background checks on their potential tenants. If you have a DWI conviction on your record, it may affect your ability to rent an apartment.

Navigating these collateral consequences can be challenging, but with the guidance of an experienced Texas DWI defense attorney, you can work towards mitigating them.  The Westbrook Law Firm works hard to dismiss or reduce DWI charges to help our clients avoid these life-altering consequences and protect their future.

Possible Defenses to DWI Charges

When facing DWI charges in Texas, there may be various defenses to challenge the prosecution’s case.  It’s important to explore these potential defenses and build a strong legal strategy to protect your rights and freedom.  Some possible defenses include:

Improper Traffic Stop

If law enforcement did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle, it may be possible to challenge the validity of the traffic stop and subsequent arrest.

Inaccurate Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are subjective and can produce inaccurate results.  An experienced attorney can question the reliability of these tests and challenge their validity.

Breathalyzer Calibration Issues

Breathalyzer tests must be properly calibrated and administered correctly.  If there are doubts about the accuracy of the breathalyzer test, it can be called into question.

Inaccurate Blood Results

Texas has increased the use of involuntary blood warrants when law enforcement suspects someone of DWI.  Even if you refuse all field sobriety tests and a breath test, the police can still obtain a search warrant to obtain a specimen of your blood.  Most Texas counties have on-call magistrates and judges (late-night and early morning) to review the officer’s Affidavit and issue the necessary warrant to obtain your blood.  Through proper representation, you can request all of the blood discovery to challenge the prosecution’s case.  Our firm has successfully refuted lab results, as well as the lab technician’s qualifications.

Constitutional Violations

Any violations of your constitutional rights during the arrest or investigation process can be used as a defense strategy.  The Westbrook Law Firm has successfully argued numerous pre-trial Motions, including Motions to Suppress, when our clients’ constitutional rights have been violated.  In many cases, the prosecution has no option but to dismiss.

It’s essential to consult with a knowledgeable Texas DWI defense attorney to assess your case’s unique circumstances and determine the best defense strategy.

What to Do If You’re Charged with a DWI in Texas

If you you’re facing a DWI charge in Houston or the surrounding areas, take immediate action to protect your rights and driving privileges.  Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do:

  • Contact an Experienced DWI Defense Attorney:  The first and most important step is to seek the help of a skilled DWI defense attorney like Nicholas R. Westbrook. We can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and develop a strong defense strategy. We can also assist you with the ALR process and petition for an occupational license if necessary.
  • Request an ALR Hearing Within 15 Days of Your Arrest:  In Texas, you have only 15 days from the date of your DWI arrest to request an ALR hearing. This hearing is separate from your criminal case and determines whether your license will be suspended.  We can help you request this hearing and prepare for it effectively. If you don’t request a hearing within the 15-day window, your license will be automatically suspended 40 days after your arrest.
  • Attend All Court Hearings and Follow Your Attorney’s Advice:  Make sure to attend all scheduled court hearings and follow your attorney’s guidance throughout the process. We will advise you on the best course of action, which may include challenging the ALR suspension, negotiating a plea bargain, or taking your case to trial.
  • Consider the Possibility of Plea Bargains or Alternative Sentencing Options:  In some cases, we may recommend accepting a plea bargain and exploring alternative sentencing options. This could include reduced charges or penalties, participation in a DWI education or rehabilitation program, and community service or probation.
  • Petition for an Occupational License:   If your license is suspended due to a DWI charge or conviction, you may be eligible for an Occupational License. This type of license allows you to drive for essential purposes, such as work, school, or medical appointments.
  • Comply with Court-Ordered Requirements:  If you are convicted of a DWI or accept a plea bargain, you may be required to complete certain programs or fulfill specific requirements set by the court.  These may include: DWI education or rehabilitation programs, community service hours, probation or supervision, and installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

Contact Our Texas DWI Defense Attorney Today

If you’ve been charged with a DWI in Texas, the Westbrook Law Firm is here to protect your rights and work towards the best possible outcome.  Mr. Westbrook is highly experienced in handling DWI cases and has a track record of success.  As a seasoned criminal defense lawyer for over 20 years, Nick combines his knowledge and experience to create a robust defense strategy personalized for each client.

Don’t face a DWI charge alone.  Let our dedicated and compassionate legal team fight for you.  Contact us today to get started.  We are here and ready to defend you.