Just Because You Are Charged with DWI Doesn't Mean You Are Guilty
DWI + DUI
Jeff Brown is a trusted DWI attorney in Roanoke, TX serving the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area. He can deliver big firm results at small firm prices.
DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. This type of charge is arguably the most common type of criminal charge in the Dallas-Fort Worth area due to the widespread and common use of alcohol. It is also the most notorious criminal charge.
Due to increased media attention, overwhelmingly negative public opinion, and the potentially devastating effects of Driving While Intoxicated, Prosecutors (and Texas legislators) are particularly hard on those charged with a DWI. This type of charge will impact you immediately and will likely impact you for the rest of your life.
Before we talk about DWI charges and their potential impacts, its important to remember that an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you avoid these negative consequences through a detailed analysis of the facts unique to your charge and skillful application of these facts to Texas Law.
What is a DWI?
Under Texas Penal Code, Title 10, Chapter 49, Section 49.04, a person commits a DWI if the accused is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Let’s break that sentence down into its elements, because there are three (3) of them and the prosecutor has to prove them all:
You have to be intoxicated
You have to be operating a motor vehicle
You have to be operating that motor vehicle in a public place
While the second two elements given above are pretty straightforward, it’s important to know what qualifies as “intoxicated.” In Section 40.01(b) of the same statute listed above, Intoxicated means that you don’t have the normal use of mental or physical ability because of alcohol, a controlled substance (like prescription pills), a drug (like marijuana), a dangerous drug (like methamphetamine), or any combination of the above. Also, under current Texas law, if you have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, you are presumed to be intoxicated.
What are the different types of and penalties for a DWI?
DWI. If you have been charged with a DWI/DUI with an alleged blood alcohol concentration between .08 and less than .15, that is a Class B misdemeanor. Under current Texas law, a Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in the county jail. The fine for this level of crime has recently changed under the repeal of the Texas Drivers’ Responsibility Program. We’ll discuss that issue later on in this page.
DWI Repetition or Blood Alcohol Content At or Greater Than 0.15. If you have a previous conviction for Driving While Intoxicated, you will be charged with a DWI Repetition. This is a Class A misdemeanor. Under current Texas law, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in the county jail. The fines associated with such a charge are also higher than a Class B misdemeanor.
Even if you do not have a prior conviction for a DWI, you can still be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if your blood alcohol concentration was at or greater than 0.15.
DWI with Child Passenger. This charge takes a DWI and penalizes the driver/operator for another person that is in the vehicle. If it is alleged a driver was intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place, and that there was a passenger in the vehicle who was younger than 15 at the time of the stop, then the DWI charge has automatically become a State Jail Felony, regardless of the blood alcohol concentration amount. Under current Texas law, a State Jail Felony is punishable by up to 2 years in a Texas State Jail facility. You could also face a fine of up to $10,000.00. But arguably one of the worst consequences with this charge is that, if convicted, the accused will now be a “convicted felon.”
There are, of course, endless variations to these charges. The DWI charges may also be more severe if there was an accident or a fatality (DWI Manslaughter). Police can also charge you with Boating While Intoxicated or Flying While Intoxicated. It is important to have an overview of the severity of these charges and understanding how serious the situation is if you or a loved one is charged with a DWI in Texas.
What are the long-term consequences for a DWI Conviction?
A DWI conviction will likely have long-term consequences. Here are a few possibilities:
Loss of Driver’s License. Texas law requires that your Driver’s License be suspended if you are convicted of a DWI. The length of that suspension depends on the severity of the charge. For a first-time regular DWI, your license is suspended for 6 months. If there is a history of DWI convictions, your license could be suspended for a much, much longer time, if not permanently suspended.
Loss of Employment. Many employers look at a DWI conviction unfavorably. Employers do not want to deal with an individual that is perceived as having substance abuse problems. And a potential employer would not want to invest in an otherwise great employee who has displayed a loss of personal control to a substance like alcohol.
Loss of Reputation. In today’s society, information is at our fingertips through our mobile devices and the Internet. In an effort to keep people informed, a lot of cities and other groups review daily arrest records and splash your information all over the Internet, usually before a trial even occurs. While these groups claim they are benefiting society, I’ve seen too many people negatively impacted by having their name negatively linked on the internet before the State has even proven the charges against the accused in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. Can you afford that loss of reputation?
A Permanent Criminal Record. Some charges can be expunged from a criminal record, thus erasing the criminal history from the eyes of most background searches. However, a DWI conviction cannot be expunged. Furthermore, it used to be that the passage of time made it impossible for a prosecutor to use a conviction that was more than 10 years old against you. For example, if you had a DWI back in 1990 and just now picked up another DWI, the prosecutors wouldn’t be able to use that extremely old DWI against you. The laws have changed, which now make it possible for a prosecutor to bring up your past and use it against you today with new charges.
As you can see, a DWI charge is a serious charge. There are many nuances to DWI Law. However, just because you have been charged with a DWI doesn’t mean you are guilty. There are many requirements that the prosecutors themselves have to meet and, oftentimes, they do not. Furthermore, an immediate drivers license suspension can be avoided by requesting an Administrative License Review Hearing.
Get Help From an Experienced DUI Attorney
Jeff Brown is an experienced DWI attorney in Roanoke, TX serving the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. For many years, he has helped his clients navigate the murky waters of the criminal justice system. He has helped his clients avoid the life-changing results of criminal convictions through his detailed-oriented case reviews and skillful ability to craft a defense with those facts and the law. Jeff Brown can deliver big firm results at small firm prices. Come and see how he can help you when everything is on the line.