DWI Attorney in Arlington, TX: Your Comprehensive Guide to DWI Defense Strategies
Operating a vehicle under the influence, or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), as it is known in Texas, is an illegal activity. In different states, it might be referred to as DUI or Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI), and it could lead to severe, life-changing repercussions. The seriousness of the penalties is often underestimated or unknown by many Texas drivers. Even if the DWI is a misdemeanor or felony, you could be subjected to a significant jail term, probation, large fines, and a prolonged suspension of your driver’s license. The real cost of a DWI in Texas extends beyond the fine itself. It could impact your employment prospects and your capacity to travel to work, school, healthcare facilities, and other vital destinations. Therefore, understanding the DWI laws and taking measures to safeguard yourself are crucial. You are in the right spot.
Our seasoned DWI attorneys at Hampton Criminal Defense Lawyers, PLLC, offer this comprehensive guide on DWIs in Texas, including ways to avoid conviction. Our team of attorneys have been involved in over 400 DWI jury trials. If you’ve recently been arrested for a DWI, don’t hesitate to seek the proficient DWI representation that you need. Contact us today at 817-826-9885!
What does a DWI in Texas cost? With so much on the line, you need the expert DWI Lawyers from Arlington, TX.
Have you or someone you know been arrested for a DWI? Swift action is necessary to avoid losing your driving privileges. Following a DWI arrest and receipt of a Notice of Suspension for your driver’s license, you have a 15-day window from your arrest date to arrange an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. Contact us immediately at 817-826-9885 to safeguard your license or learn more about ALR after a DWI and why urgent action is essential to keep your driving privileges.
Why Should You Retain an Arlington DWI Attorney Specializing in DWI Defense?
Being charged with a DWI or DUI in Arlington, Texas necessitates understanding the value of a specialized attorney over a general practice one. A specialist has the specific experience needed for optimal representation during your DWI case.
In Tarrant County, it’s standard for the District Attorney’s Office to designate a prosecutor team for your case trial. At Hampton Criminal Defense Lawyers, PLLC, we level the playing field for those facing DWI charges in Arlington. If your case proceeds to trial, rest assured that an expert team of DWI defense attorneys, with both misdemeanor and felony DWI expertise, will defend you.
How is a DWI Crime Defined Under Texas Law?
A DWI charge in Texas can be levied if a person, while operating a vehicle, is deemed to have lost normal mental or physical functions due to alcohol or drugs. Additionally, a DWI can be charged if the driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is .08% or more while driving.
Regardless of the specifics of the charges, driving under the influence is a serious offense. We suggest hiring a skilled Texas DWI lawyer in your area like the professionals at Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys as soon as possible after your arrest. An experienced defense attorney, like Jeff Hampton, for driving under influence charges should be contacted immediately to commence early defense preparation and potentially preserve your driver’s license.
Penalties Under Texas Law for DWI
In Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield, or the neighboring areas in Tarrant County, a DUI or DWI arrest is viewed as a grave crime. It can lead to potential jail time, higher insurance rates, and a tarnished criminal record. This segment gives answers to frequently asked questions about various DWI charges and their respective penalties in Texas. For anyone facing drunk driving charges, we highly recommend the services of a seasoned DWI defense lawyer.
What are the Consequences of a First DWI Conviction?
For anyone charged with a first DWI offense, Texas law stipulates penalties ranging from 3 to 180 days in the Tarrant County jail, significant fines, court fees, and a driver’s license suspension from 90 days up to a year.
If you are given community supervision (probation) in Tarrant County for a first DWI offense, you could be required to undergo several DWI courses (Alcohol/Drug evaluation, DWI education program, Victim Impact Panel, etc.), at your own expense. You could also have to fulfill a considerable amount of community service hours and face a license suspension from 90 days up to a year. If you agreed to a DWI breath or blood test and your blood alcohol level was found to be over .15, the judge MUST mandate you to get an ignition interlock device for your vehicle as a term of your community service (probation).
Lastly, if at the time of your arrest you had an open container, Texas law stipulates that you could face 6 to 180 days in the Tarrant County jail.
What are the Consequences of a First DUI Conviction as a Minor (under 21 years of age)?
For anyone under 21 charged with a first DUI offense, you will be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor that imposes a fine up to $500, but no jail time upon conviction.
However, if you or your minor child are given community supervision (probation), you must fulfill all the standard conditions of a DWI probation, plus receive a driver’s license suspension effective at the beginning of the probation period. Lastly, the court will mandate you to install and use an ignition interlock device on your vehicle during your probation term.
What are the Consequences of a Second DWI Conviction?
If you are charged with a second DWI offense, Texas law stipulates penalties ranging from 30 days to 1 year in the Tarrant County jail, significant fines, court fees, and a driver’s license suspension from 180 days up to 2 years. If your second DWI offense was committed within 5 years of your first DWI offense, your driver’s license can be suspended from 1 to 2 years.
For a second DWI offense, you must fulfill all of the conditions of a first DWI offense as well as spend a minimum of 3 to 5 days in jail as a condition of your probation. A court-ordered ignition interlock device will be installed and monitored on your vehicle (at your own expense), and you will be required to complete a program for repeat DWI offenders.
What are the Consequences of a Third or Subsequent DWI Conviction (Felony DWI)?
If you are charged with a Felony DWI, Texas law stipulates penalties ranging from 2 to 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections (prison), significant fines, court fees, and a driver’s license suspension from 180 days up to 2 years. If your Felony DWI was committed within 5 years of your previous DWI offense, your driver’s license can be suspended from 1 to 2 years. Penalties range widely from a first and second offense to what happens on your 4th DWI in Texas.
For a Felony DWI, you must fulfill all of the conditions of a second DWI offense as well as spend a minimum of 10 days in jail as a condition of your probation.
What are the Consequences of an Intoxication Assault Conviction?
If you are charged with Intoxication Assault, Texas law stipulates penalties ranging from 2 to 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections (prison), significant fines, court fees, and a driver’s license suspension from 90 days up to 1 year (if it is your first DWI/alcohol-related offense). However, if your Intoxication Assault conviction was committed within 5 years of a prior DWI offense, your driver’s license can be suspended for 1 year.
For an Intoxication Assault conviction, you must fulfill all of the conditions of a first DWI offense as well as spend a minimum of 30 days in the Tarrant County jail as a condition of your probation. Also, if it is your second or more Intoxication Assault conviction and you receive community supervision (probation), a court-ordered ignition interlock device will be installed and monitored on your vehicle (at your own expense).
What are the Consequences of an Intoxication Manslaughter Conviction?
If you are charged with Intoxication Manslaughter, Texas law stipulates penalties ranging from 2 to 20 years in the Texas Department of Corrections (prison), significant fines, court fees, and a driver’s license suspension from 180 days up to 2 years.
For an Intoxication Manslaughter conviction, you must fulfill all of the conditions of a first DWI offense as well as spend a minimum of 120 days in the Tarrant County jail as a condition of your probation.
How Can a DWI Lawyer Assist in My Case?
If you are grappling with a DWI case in Texas, you need a DWI lawyer who will scrutinize all possibilities to reduce your risk and ensure the most favorable outcome. While we have outlined the potential punishments if convicted, your DWI attorney should also:
- Examine your DWI reports and contrast them with the body and patrol camera footage
- Share the evidence with you for your input. Your perspective is crucial as you were at the scene!
- Ascertain if there was reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop or investigation
- Review the administration of any field sobriety tests to ensure they were administered according to the standards of the National Highway Traffic And Safety Administration.
- Determine if there was probable cause for your arrest considering the totality of the circumstances
- Assess the breath test or blood draw to determine if it was legally obtained and admissible in court.
What’s the Price of a DWI Conviction in Texas?
The ramifications of a conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) are extensive and far-reaching. The repercussions of even a first-time offense are harsh, leaving you with a criminal record that can negatively impact your life indefinitely.
Beyond the criminal penalties, there’s the substantial financial burden to consider. This can result in considerable debt.
So, what sort of figures are we considering?
A few years back, the Texas Department of Transportation launched a billboard campaign claiming the average cost of a DWI was $17,000. Though this figure has largely been discredited, the fact remains that a DWI can lead to expenses amounting to thousands of dollars.
Texas treats DWI offenses with the utmost severity. Legal penalties, court costs, and fees related to administrative sanctions can add up quickly. Each case is unique, but you can anticipate a combination of the following costs.
Court Costs, Fines, and Penalties
In case of a conviction, all court appearances must be paid for, usually ranging from $200 to $1,500.
Upon conviction for a DWI, hefty legal fines will apply. The exact amount depends on previous offenses, presence of aggravating factors, and if any harm was caused due to the intoxicated driving.
On average, legal penalties are:
- First offense: Up to $2,000
- Second offense: Up to $4,000
- Third offense: Up to $10,000
- DWI with child passenger: Up to $10,000
- Intoxication assault or manslaughter: Up to $10,000
Incarceration and Impacted Employment Opportunities
If you are sentenced to jail time, your income will cease for the duration of your imprisonment. It’s likely that your employment may not survive your absence. Furthermore, many companies view a DWI conviction as justification for termination, irrespective of a jail sentence.
Loss of employment due to a DWI can significantly affect your ability to secure new employment, as a criminal record limits numerous job opportunities.
Administrative Sanctions and Fees
Administrative License Suspension
A DWI offense will most likely lead to license suspension, known as Administrative License Suspension. The length of the suspension is determined in court and depends on whether you refused or failed chemical testing, and your past DWI history. Generally, license suspensions last from 180 days up to two years.
Regardless of your history with DWIs, hefty administrative penalties and accompanying fees apply upon conviction.
Elimination of DWI Surcharges in Texas
In an important development, surcharges have been abolished. These were additional fees atop the regular fines and penalties related to a DWI conviction. DWI surcharges began at $3,000 and could skyrocket to $6,000.
Failure to pay surcharges could have resulted in license revocation, but luckily, this is no longer the case.
For those recently charged with a surcharge, expect its removal from your record and likely reinstatement of your driver’s license. However, be aware of newly introduced penalties for DWIs.
Revamping of the DWI Fine Structure in Texas
The removal of surcharges doesn’t suggest that Texas is softening its stance on DWIs. To retain the gravity of DWI offenses, penalties have been adjusted to compensate for the loss of surcharge income.
- First offenses now come with a mandatory fine of $3,000, plus an annual fee of up to $2,000 to keep your driver’s license.
- Second offenses within three years attract a flat fine of $4,500.
- Any DWI with a BAC recorded as 0.15 or higher results in a flat fine of $6,000.
- Any exacerbating factors beyond that or a third offense can see fines rise to $10,000.
Remember, these fines are minimums, not maximums. No reductions are possible; every conviction will result in a minimum of $3,000 in fines, and could go up to $10,000.
New Penalties Add to Traditional DWI Penalties
Dealing with a DWI charge is more challenging than ever due to the revised laws. The emphasis now is on fines.
If charged with a DWI in Texas, contact a seasoned attorney promptly. They can guide you through the complex legal system, striving to decrease or eliminate penalties, and assist in retaining your license.
Bear in mind, these new monetary penalties are in addition to the standard DWI penalties still in force.
Monthly Probation Costs
Conviction for a DWI leads to mandatory probation. First-time offenders usually face 6-12 months of probation. Repeat offenders or those with aggravating circumstances can expect longer probation periods. During probation, there’s a monthly fee of $60-$100.
Fees for Alcohol Education Programs
Convicted individuals must take part in and pay for alcohol education programs. A first-time offender incurs a $70 fee. Repeat offenders are mandated to attend a more comprehensive program, costing $185.
DWI Education Program
First-time offenders take part in a 12-hour DWI Education Program, which examines the impact of drugs and alcohol on the mind, body, and driving abilities. It also explores Texas DWI laws, substance abuse, and dependency.
Ignition Interlock Device
You may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, which carries a monthly fee of $70-$100. These devices often malfunction, and you’ll shoulder any repair costs.
In court, it will be determined whether an ignition interlock device (IID) will be installed in your vehicle. This device necessitates a successful breathalyzer test before your car can start and to keep it running while driving.
An IID is not only expensive to install and maintain, but it can also be a source of embarrassment when transporting passengers. The optimal way to avoid a DWI is to plan ahead and abstain from drinking and driving.
But if you’re currently facing charges, contacting a proficient Arlington criminal defense attorney can help you construct the best possible defense and boost your chances of achieving a favorable result.
DWI Intervention Program
Repeat offenders participate in the 32-hour DWI Intervention Program. This delves deeper into potential causes of repeated DWI offenses, such as lifestyle factors, chemical dependence, and self-esteem issues. It also offers resources for support groups and 12-step programs.
Raised Vehicle Insurance Rates
To reinstate your license, you’ll need to take on additional auto insurance liability, and your insurance provider is likely to hike your premium.
Vehicle Impound Fees
Upon DWI arrest, your vehicle will be towed and impounded. Towing fees can be anywhere from $250-450, and daily impoundment fees usually come to $20 per day.
That’s a hefty sum for one night of drinking and a poor decision to drive. The ideal way to mitigate these costs after charges is to consult with a skilled Arlington DWI attorney who is familiar with the law and can work towards minimizing the impact on you. Don’t hesitate to contact one to start defending your charges.
Why Hire An Experienced Arlington DWI Lawyer?
Your Liberty is at Risk
Being handed a severe jail sentence diminishes your freedom significantly. This not only affects your mental health, but can also lead to relationship issues with family members or others who depend on you. If you don’t have a competent DWI lawyer actively defending you against your DWI charges, you’re at risk of receiving a prolonged jail term – especially if your record already contains one or more previous convictions.
Your Livelihood Could be Jeopardized
Even if you manage to avoid a lengthy jail sentence, you might lose your job. Moreover, a DWI conviction could cast a shadow over the rest of your life. If you’re in the process of applying for a job, a loan, or a lease, a DWI conviction will show up on your criminal background check. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer will bear your employment needs in mind and strive to help you safeguard your career.
Does a DWI Have an Impact on My Employment?
You might be wondering how a DWI could affect your employment. Regrettably, the answer is that it varies. If you work in the public-facing transportation sector, you are more likely to face job-related repercussions. Notably, Texas is an “at-will” employment state, which means, barring an explicit agreement like an employment contract, employers can dismiss employees for any reason, or no reason at all. Essentially, your employer is within their rights to terminate your employment due to a DWI arrest or conviction, with no need to provide any justification.
Background Checks and DWIs in Texas
Another important aspect to remember is that a DWI will appear on a criminal background check. As per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, DWI arrests remain on your criminal record for up to seven years. Convictions, however, stay on your record permanently. Federal law generally prevents employers from outright rejecting an applicant solely because of a DWI conviction, but exceptions exist for individuals working in industries such as nursing, healthcare, childcare, and transportation. Although it’s unlawful for potential employers to disregard your application purely based on a DWI conviction, they can easily find “other reasons” not to hire you if your record shows a DWI.
Your Driving Privileges Could be Compromised
A DWI arrest typically results in license suspension unless you contest this suspension at a hearing and combat the DWI charge. Crucially, you need to prove that the arresting officer lacked probable cause to arrest you for DWI, which could be incredibly challenging. A proficient DWI lawyer can scrutinize the police’s testimony and raise serious doubts about their justification. Moreover, even if a conviction seems inevitable, a capable DWI lawyer will strive to minimize your license suspension duration and assist you in securing limited driving privileges.
An Inexperienced Attorney May Make Pre-Trial Blunders
Your criminal case will likely involve several hearings. These proceedings involve your lawyer’s request for evidence related to your case and the resolution of contested matters before the trial. If your lawyer lacks familiarity with DWI laws or trial procedures, they might fail to request vital evidence that strengthens your defense (like witness statements, police reports, videos). They could also struggle with analyzing and presenting this evidence effectively.
You Might Settle for an Unfavorable Deal
When charged with a DWI, the district attorney might offer you a plea bargain, which entails pleading guilty in exchange for a reduced punishment. However, there might be critical evidence that exonerates you. Valid reasons to contest the DWI charge might exist, but an inexperienced lawyer might overlook these if they’re unfamiliar with DWI laws. Accepting defeat prematurely could result in more severe consequences than what you might receive if you haggled more tenaciously with the district attorney or took your case to trial. A competent DWI attorney will thoroughly review your case to determine the appropriateness of a plea bargain.
Inadequate Representation Could Derail Your Case at Trial
If your case proceeds to trial, it’s crucial for your lawyer to present a robust defense to convince the judge or jury of your innocence. However, attorneys unfamiliar with courtroom proceedings or lesser-known defenses that might apply to your case could find this challenging. An ill-prepared lawyer could jeopardize your DWI case.
You Might Not Have the Financial Means to Handle a Conviction
DWIs can be costly, and many people can’t bear the financial burden of a conviction. By having a knowledgeable and seasoned DWI attorney contesting your charges, you could avert a financial catastrophe. Whether by persuading the district attorney to propose the most favorable deal possible or by presenting your case at trial in an efficient and effective manner to avoid a conviction, an experienced lawyer can save you a significant amount of money. An inept attorney could prove costly in more ways than one.