Posts Tagged ‘DWI in Texas’

The Consequences of a First Time DWI Offense in Texas

Texas criminal defense attorneyIt a lesson that many criminal defendants learn the hard way: even the first DUI offense can carry costly, time-consuming consequences which plague the defendant’s life for years to come. A sentence in the criminal court is just the start of a long and painful process.


Mandatory Sentencing for a DWI

The Texas Penal Code makes the following provision for sentencing a defendant for a first DWI offense:

  • Without prior convictions, a DWI is designated as a class four misdemeanor. (Texas Statutes, Title 10 49.09)
  • Class Four Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $4000, a jail term of up to one year, or both. (Texas Statutes, Title 3 12.21)

The Texas Statutes also provide for the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. Under Title 7 §524.001, an arresting officer must take a DWI suspect’s driver’s license and issue a notice of suspension, along with a temporary license valid for forty one days. The Department of Public Safety must then suspend the driver’s license if the defendant had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit. This entire process in entirely independent of any criminal proceedings.

Once a defendant incurs a second DWI within five years, the court must order the defendant to install an ignition interlock device, which prevents the defendant from operating the vehicle without first passing a breath test.  (Texas Statutes, Title 10 §49.09(h)). The Defendant is prohibited from driving any vehicle without an ignition interlock device during this time. If a defendant is proven to have any prior DWIs, he or she must also be sentenced to jail for a minimum of thirty days. (Texas Statutes, Title 10 §49.09(a)).

The Consequences That Many Defendants Don’t Know About 

Unfortunately, there are many collateral consequences of a DWI conviction beyond the mandatory sentence in the criminal case.  Any DWI case requires several court appearances, which are often during work hours. Community service also impacts a defendant’s performance at work. Substance abuse screening or counseling can also be ordered by the court, and this, too, can require a defendant to miss even more time from work. On the whole, the chances of getting thorough a DWI case without any impact upon the defendant’s work life are not great.

There are also administrative consequences for a DWI defendant’s driver’s license. The driver must meet all requirements and apply for reinstatement of his or her license through the Texas Department of Public Safety. As with most DMV matters, this process is neither quick nor pleasant. If a driver has temporary or restricted driving privileges reinstated, this requires yet another administrative process upon eligibility for reinstatement of full driving privileges.

There are many collateral consequences to any DWI conviction, even if it is the first offense. Defendants can protect their legal rights by consulting with an experienced Texas DWI attorney. Attorney Joseph J. Labella has over twenty years of experience in successfully defending DWI cases. He ensures that DWI defendants have their rights protected to ensure a just outcome for their legal cases.