What happens if you are convicted of DWI? There are a lot of consequences to a DWI conviction, some of which are obvious and they come in the form of range of punishment and what are called criminal consequences.
There are other consequences that are deemed collateral consequences and we can go into those in a second and those are things that can happen to your drivers license, your job or any license you need to perform your job.
There are consequences prior to being convicted that I assume you have talked about at a different time that are administrative consequences which are based on whether you took a breath or blood test and if you refused those tests.
For all purposes let’s just assume the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) has already been dealt with and we’re only dealing with the consequences of a conviction.
Does that work for you?
Ok, so like everything It depends upon what happened previously in your life.
Meaning, do you have any criminal history?
And what happened in this specific case.
Let us start with the DWI first and we will talk about the criminal consequences.
So a DWI and the range of punishment depends upon what your blood or breath alcohol level comes back to and the big threshold number is .15.
If you did not take a breath or blood test and they didn’t get a warrant to force you to give blood or breath its going to default to a Class B Misdemeanor which would be below .15.
So lets start there, anything that is a first DWI that is below a .15 breath or blood test is a Class B misdemeanor.
Now the range of punishment on that is anywhere up to a hundred and eighty days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.
That can be probated and if it is probated there is not any mandatory jail time on a first DWI.
Your typical terms of probation can include community service and you will absolutely have to take something called a DWI educational course.
That course will allow you to keep your drivers license.
The only way you can keep driving after DWI conviction, assuming you won the ALR, is if you take the specific class.
Now, if its above a .15 it becomes a Class A Misdemeanor.
That means up to a year in jail or a $4,000 fine.
Again, there’s not mandatory jail time if it’s probated but you have the same class requirements and additionally you’ll have to have something on your vehicle ignition interlock for 6 months to keep driving.
Those are the criminal consequences of a first-time DWI.
Like everything in life, if you have any additional cases or criminal history, those penalties can be enhanced.
So let assume for a second you have a prior DWI.
Now it also matters when the prior DWI was.
If you had a prior DWI within five years, then you have a class A misdemeanor regardless of what your breath or blood test comes back.
That means anywhere up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Additionally, if it is within five years you have a mandatory jail time of five days even if that is probated.
In other words, even if the judge gives you probation you still have to do five days in jail.
Thats day for day because they can’t give you credit for the time that you were in jail when you were arrested.
Additionally, even if you take the DWI educational course you will have a driver’s license suspension up to two years.
Let us drop down for a second and let us say that your prior DWI is anywhere older than five years.
It can be thirty years ago or it could be six years ago.
It is still a Class A misdemeanor but your mandatory jail time goes down to three days in jail.
Now lets talk a bit about worse case scenario.
Let’s say you have two prior DWIs and this is your third DWI.
It does not matter when these prior DWIs were for the purposes of determining whether it could be a felony.
Now a good lawyer will tell you if it is over a certain period of time those judgments may not be able to be used.
If you have a lawyer who specializes or focuses on DWI they will be able to look at these judgments and tell you if these priors can be used against you.
It is one of the first things we do here.
But let’s assume for all purposes that they are good judgments and you have two prior convictions for DWI.
It does not matter how old they are, what you are dealing with now is a third degree felony and the criminal consequences for that are anywhere from two to ten years in the penitentiary or $10,000 fine.
If the judge chooses to probate that there is a mandatory ten days in jail as a condition of that probation.
And again, you are going to have a license suspension regardless of whether you take the DWI educational course.
So those are the criminal consequences in terms of jail time.
The next issue is something called collateral consequences and those are things like your drivers license, your permit to carry a hand gun or if you happen to be a commercial driver.
Right, so it’s pretty clear that the penalties and fines for a DWI in Texas are serious even if it is a first offense.
You mentioned CDL so what happens if someone has a commercial driver’s license and they get a DWI?
Very few people get caught driving a commercial vehicle when they get a DWI.
So I want to be clear that I am not talking about that.
I am talking about if you have a commercial drivers license and you are driving a personal vehicle.
There are two potential ways you could lose your commercial drivers license even if you were driving your personal vehicle.
The first one is something we touch on briefly and it’s something that happens before you’re convicted and that is the Administrative License Revocation Hearing.
When you are arrested for DWI you’re offered either a breath or blood test and if you take it and you fail or if you refuse it you could be in trouble.
The suspension of a commercial drivers license is a year and it happens within forty days if you don’t request something called a Administrative License Revocation and you have to do it within 15 days of your arrest.
So let’s assume you lose the Administrative License Revocation or you have a lawyer doesn’t request one.
What you hear and what they tell you is, let’s say you failed the breath test, that you lose your license for 90 days.
Well, that is true.
But that is only your class E license.
If you don’t request an ALR hearing or you don’t win the ALR hearing you would lose your commercial driver’s license for a year.
It does not matter if you were driving a commercial vehicle.
You could even be driving a boat and have an ALR suspension and lose your commercial driver’s license for a year.
Now lets talk about a suspension.
If you are convicted of a DWI its the same, you are going to lose our commercial drivers license for a year.
Now, if you have two or more DWIs it could disqualify you from life.
These are very serious consequences regardless of the vehicle they were driving at the time.
We have a little bit of time left so I’m going to throw this last question in there.
What about a CHL?
What about getting a DWI with a concealed handgun license?
Again, there are two different things that can happen.
Let us start with the arrest.
What you may find is that you may be shocked that you have gone through all the steps necessary to get a concealed handgun license, you legally carrying your handgun and you get arrested for a DWI.
Suddenly you are charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon.
The reason is that the law says that the individual engaged in criminal activity may be charged regardless of whether they have a concealed handgun license.
So even if you have this license, you can find yourself with an additional charge of unlawful carrying a weapon.
Now, if the DWI goes away, so does the unlawfully carry a weapon charge.
Upon arrest, not conviction, you immediately lose your concealed handgun license.
They do not give you due process on this.
They do not wait for the outcome.
You are immediately suspended and disqualified from a concealed handgun license.
If you win the case, whether its dismissed or whether you found guilty by a jury, you can reapply and you can do it immediately.
If you are convicted of DWI it is a little different.
If you’re convicted you’re disqualified from applying for a concealed handgun license for 5 years.
You can still carry based on one of the other permissible means that you carry under the laws of the State of Texas but you can’t get a CHL.
Now let us go to the worst case scenario here.
If you’re convicted two times in a 10-year period you can be disqualified beyond five years.
So again, these are some collateral consequences that people do not take about the impact on your life and in Texas we love to carry guns and this could disqualify you.
Its something you may not think about which is why you need to engage an attorney that focuses primarily on DWI because its a very complicated area of the law.