Hand Over Your Keys (and Your Wallet)
The first and often most significant punishment for a DWI is the suspension of your driver’s license for up to two years, which can make getting to or even finding work nearly impossible. Your lawyer can request a hearing to save your license within the first 15 days after your arrest, but if you fail to get one scheduled in time or the hearing goes against you, then you are essentially stuck with your punishment.
Even once you are allowed to drive again, the consequences of a DWI can still be felt. Expect your car insurance rates to double, or possibly even triple. As if that wasn’t harsh enough, the Texas Department of Safety will expect a $1,000 surcharge per year for three years to maintain your privilege to drive, and that amount will double if your probationary BAC test results come in above .16. If you fail to pay or create an installment plan, your license will be revoked all over again. This is all in addition to any fines previously collected for the offense, or any time that you have already served.
“This is Going on Your Permanent Record!”
Transportation woes won’t be your only headache. Employment applications generally ask if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony. While your first and second offenses could be classified as Class B and A misdemeanors, respectively, a third offense falls under a felony. While other states have passed laws banning this question on job applications, Texas has not yet bought into the trend. Some employers require you to update your original application indicating your felon status if convicted and failure to do so could even get you fired.
Expect to be on probation after a conviction and prepare to pay the steep fees that come with it. Failure to make appointments with your probation officer or pay the fees can send you to jail. You will also be assigned to classes related to alcohol abuse and DWI and may even have to perform community service as well. Fulfilling your probation requirements while also navigating a work schedule can be extremely difficult, and failure to do so will only make things worse.
One of the most important things to remember is that a DWI conviction is forever. Even if you’re a first time offender, a DWI conviction lasts forever, and subsequent violations will only be worse. Even with decades between your first and second offense, minimum subsequent sentencing will remain the same.
Beyond the legal consequences of living with a DWI conviction, the social and professional ramifications can be equally harsh. If you are in a position of prominence or work with children, the community at large may be skeptical as to your professional integrity after a DWI, even if the DWI was unrelated to your job. The public views a DWI as a moral failure, and the judgment they hand out can be extremely harsh. There is little sympathy for intoxicated drivers no matter how minor the actual incident may have been.
Don’t Let Your Rights Fall to the Wayside
With consequences this severe, your best option is to avoid conviction altogether. Mark Thiessen is an experienced, award-winning defense attorney who knows all every detail of DWI laws in Texas. He and his firm understand that bad things happen to good people and will fight to protect you and your rights. If you find yourself in this difficult position, call us immediately for a consultation.