Penalties, Punishment Ranges And Collateral Consequences Of A DWI Conviction In Texas
Being arrested for a charge of DWI is a serious criminal offense that can affect your life personally, professionally, emotionally financially and in many other ways. The classification level of each offense is based on the specific factors involved, and if one has any previous DWI arrests in the past is a huge factor in the potential range of punishment. If one has previous convictions for a DWI offense, typically the steeper in degree the possible punishment which can result. Specific factors can be used to enhance the offense to a higher level, which can be classified based upon the elements as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. The penalties for a DWI charge in Texas can differ according to the specific fact, most specifically on it is the first offense, or if one has previous convictions. Additionally, there is an enhanced penalty range in Texas for those who allegedly have a BAC level of 0.15 (or higher). Individuals arrested for DWI who also have a child passenger in their vehicle will also face an enhanced penalty for a felony offense. Texas DWI cases which involve an accident or crash caused by reason of intoxication which is the direct result of the impaired driver can result in felony charges if it resulted in a serious injury or death.
Collateral Consequences of a DWI Conviction
A conviction for a charge of DWI in Texas has other collateral consequences in addition to the required statutory legal provisions that outline the potential range of punishment. If you are placed on probation, there are probation costs. Other collateral consequences include possible loss of employment. Penalties are incredibly severe for people that hold a CDL and drive for a living. Even though the range of punishment is the same for different DWI offenses, there are different collateral consequences individuals may have to face. Those arrested who aren’t citizens can have different repercussions. If you’re convicted of DWI and you’re arrested again, regardless of your guilt, it will be charged as a DWI second and that enhances the range of punishment and the associated severity and possible punishment that results.
However, for many people there often can be additional consequences from a DWI, where factors that may be affected such as a job or employment possibilities, those who have a Commercial Driving License (“CDL”). The reality is that the collateral consequences may be unlimited in scope and not foreseeable for the future. An individual may be forced to handle a variety of problems and possibly may face problems with their employment because of the conviction, or they may face problems getting licensed by a state agency could potentially affect whether an individual can be licensed, or re-licensed, for their professional career. Many face the frightening possibility of having a career turn upside down by a professional licensing agency which may choose to enforce as punishment additional career-related punishments. A licensed professional may face disciplinary proceedings, possibly with actions which arise which could result in possibly either a temporary or permanent license suspension or revocation.
In some cases, a simple guilty plea can be enough to derail a person’s whole career and can devastate an entire life. The very real possibility does exist for an individual to face negative repercussions with their job or employment, including with things such as being placed on suspension, denial of a promotion; denial of a pay raise or increase, decrease in pay, change to a different position, or overall termination of employment. The reality is that the collateral consequences may be unlimited in scope and not foreseeable for the future. An individual may be forced to handle a variety of problems and possibly may face problems with their employment because of the conviction, or they may face problems getting licensed by a state agency could potentially affect whether an individual can be licensed, or re-licensed, for their professional career. Certainly, auto insurance premiums will likely increase, and it may also have other lasting financial ramifications with being able to obtain credit, to buy or rent a home, etc. Simply put, the potentials that may result and the possibilities outside of what is normally considered are endless.
In addition, issues may arise such as credit agencies being notified of the DWI, which impacts your score, one may have to pay more for health and/or auto insurance. If the driver’s license is suspended, a person may have difficulty with transportation just getting to their place of work, which may cause the loss of a job and income that a person needs to pay bills. There are a number of collateral consequences of a DWI conviction that will have lasting effects on your life, and it could affect those in the military or with a security clearance, it could also affect an individual’s child custody arrangement if the other parent attempts to try and order more restrictions on their visitation and custody rights. Generally speaking, these consequences include your social, financial, professional, and familial statuses. Other collateral consequences include but are not limited to difficulty renting a home, securing federal student aid for educational aspirations, applying for any kind of position at most private companies — especially those that may require you to drive on their behalf or those that view a DWI conviction as a liability.
The state of Texas has very strict and harsh law which governs being arrested for a DWI charge and for those who have a commercial driver’s license, or a CDL. For those who drive professionally, these penalties can be enhanced if they are convicted of a commercial vehicle DWI. Along with the very real possibility of long jail terms and hefty fines, your commercial driver’s license and your professional livelihood are at stake if you have been accused of such a crime. CDL drivers arrested for DWI with a blood alcohol content of .04 or higher while transporting hazardous material and who refuse to consent to an alcohol test can face a license suspension of up to one year and a restriction of three years on transporting hazardous cargo. In fact, any commercial vehicle driver operating a commercial vehicle in Texas with a BAC of .04 or higher can be subject to all of the punishments handed out for other drivers who had a BAC of .08 or higher. In Texas, any CDL holder or driver who consents to a blood test and have a .04 or higher BAC while driving a commercial vehicle; or a .08 BAC while driving any motor vehicle; or who refuse to consent to a blood test at all, can face a suspension of up to one year.
Am I Required To Install An Ignition Interlock Device In My Car For A DWI Case In Texas?
If it’s a second or subsequent DWI, it is likely and sometimes mandatory that an ignition interlock, or other alcohol monitoring device, will be required as a condition of your probation. If it’s not the ignition interlock, a judge may require an in-home unit or possibly SCRAM, which is an ankle monitor, to monitor alcohol consumption. There’s also what’s called sober link, a device you carry along with you and blow into periodically. You can apply after half of the term of probation to get the monitoring device removed, but it’s at the complete discretion of the judge. The judge could even require multiple devices as a condition of probation. Sentencing following a conviction for DWI is a different process altogether. Judges have incredibly wide leeway in assessing how they’re going to impose a sentence.
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