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The aftermath of a DWI can be much more complex, much more anxiety-producing, and much more difficult than you ever imagined. Not only are you facing serious court penalties should you be convicted of DWI, you will also face a plethora of other consequences. Your first order of business should be to contact an experienced Harris County DWI attorney. You may think you do not need an attorney—that you can easily handle this on your own. Or, you may believe that the best thing you can do is to simply plead guilty quickly in order to have the entire thing over and done with.
It is important to understand that either of these choices can significantly exacerbate the consequences you will face as a result of your DWI charges. There are so very many things an experienced DWI attorney can do to alleviate these consequences, that it simply makes no sense to either try to defend yourself or to quickly plead guilty. First, let’s consider the consequences of a Texas DWI conviction.
Criminal Penalties for a Texas DWI Conviction - Under Texas law, the BAC limit is 0.08 percent, or 0.04 percent for commercial drivers. A first offense or second offense DWI are considered Class B misdemeanors, while a third or subsequent DWI conviction can be a felony offense. A first offense DWI can result in fines of up to $2,000, from 6 to 180 days in jail and a driver’s license suspension from 90 days to one year.
A second offense DWI can result in a fine as large as $4,000, from one month to one year in jail, and a license suspension for up to one year. For a third offense DWI in the state of Texas, you could face up to $10,000 in fines, from two to ten years in prison, and a license suspension from one to two years. Court penalties can also include community service, mandated DWI education and treatment programs and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.
If you refused to submit to a sobriety test, you could have your driver’s license suspended for 180 days for a first offense. If you receive a DWI and you had a passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle, you will face a state jail felony, and could receive from 180 days to two years in state jail, and a fine as large as $10,000. For a DWI with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher, you could face a Class A misdemeanor, with a sentence of up to one year in jail, and a fine as large as $4,000.
Collateral Penalties for a DWI Conviction - Although the criminal penalties for a DWI conviction in Texas are severe enough, you will face many more consequences for a DWI conviction—many of which you may not even have considered. If your driver’s license is suspended, you may have difficulty getting to and from work, not to mention running necessary errands or visiting friends and family. If you happen to live in an area where the public transportation system is less than ideal, you could find yourself without a job, therefore unable to pay your regular monthly bills.
We are a very mobile society, therefore, the loss of your driver’s license can cause a number of other problems. Should you decide to “chance it,” and drive without a license, you should know that if you are caught driving on a suspended license, you could face new criminal charges, you could have your car impounded, you could be assessed additional fines, and you could spend time in jail.
Adverse Consequences to Immigration Status or Child Custody - In certain instances, a DWI conviction can hurt the immigration status of those who are not U.S. citizens. Multiple DWI conviction, driving on a suspended license, or being involved in a hit and run accident could significantly affect the outcome of a deportation hearing. If you are in the middle of a pending—or even a finalized—divorce, your ex could use your DWI conviction against you in the determination of child custody. The court could even alter your full or shared custody status, change your visitation rights, or make it illegal for you to transport your child.
Adverse Employment Issues Related to a DWI Conviction - If you can figure out how to get to and from work without a driver’s license, and you can afford the hike in insurance rates when you are eligible to have your driver’s license reinstated, you could still face adverse employment issues. If you are currently employed, many companies require disclosure of your DWI conviction to the human resources department. This could result in a job demotion or even termination of your employment. If you are looking for a job, a background check run by a prospective employer can pull up your DWI conviction, making it much less likely you will be hired, no matter how qualified you are otherwise.
If your job depends on your CDL license, you could be unable to obtain employment in your chosen profession. You could also lose a professional license (or be unable to obtain a professional license) or a required security clearance. Agencies who depend on licensing based on character, moral judgment and trust may be more likely to revoke or suspend your professional license following a DWI conviction. This could include physicians, nurses, teachers, insurance agents, military personnel and defense contractors, to name a few. Each professional board has its own procedures regarding criminal convictions which can range from total revocation of the license to a probationary period.
Adverse Financial Repercussions Following a DWI Conviction - In addition to court costs and fees following a Texas DWI conviction, you may experience further financial repercussions. If the court sentences you to alcohol and drug treatment, you could be required to pay thousands of dollars. Following a DWI conviction, you might need a higher credit score to qualify for a loan, and could face probation fees, court-ordered restitution, and fines. If you are required to have an ignition interlock device installed, you will pay for the installation, as well as a monthly fee until the time you can have the device taken off. This fee can be from $50-$90 per month.
Adverse Insurance Issues Related to a DWI Conviction - When your license suspension is up, and you attempt to get auto insurance with the required SR-22 form, you may find that your insurance premiums have become totally unaffordable—or that no insurance company will take the chance on insuring you. Your insurance premiums could increase literally hundreds of dollars a month because of your DWI conviction. Not only are you facing issues related to car insurance, in some cases, a health provider could also increase your insurance premiums, or deny you low-cost coverage. Life insurance companies often deny policies to those convicted of a DWI or raise the rates significantly.
Speak to a Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI Attorney as Quickly as Possible - If you have been charged with a DWI in Harris County, you are potentially facing serious, even life altering consequences. Because of this, it is never a good idea to plead guilty—even to avoid embarrassment or to get it over and done with—or to attempt to defend yourself in court. There are many issues an experienced Sullo & Sullo Harris County DWI attorney can base a challenge on. These challenges can potentially lead to having the charges dropped, having the charges reduced, or having the penalties for a DWI conviction significantly reduced. Having an attorney by your side lends you credibility and gives you a much higher chance of a positive outcome to your charges. Contact Sullo & Sullo today.