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What Happens Next After A DWI Arrest?
There are usually both Motor Vehicle & Court
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DWI in Texas - Driving Under the Influence
Driving While Intoxicated
DUI vs. DWI in Texas
The first thing that a person must understand after having
been arrested for DUI or DWI is that there are two
separate cases pending against them. The first case is the
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While
Intoxicated (DWI) civil case and the second is the DUI or
DWI criminal case.
Driving Under the Influence:
Driving Under the Influence - Civil Case:
Texas has long been known as a 'zero tolerance' state
meaning that minors (anyone under 21 years of age) are not
permitted to consume any alcohol and drive a vehicle.
The Department of Public Safety adheres to this public
policy and will suspend the driver's license of any minor
who is found to be operating a vehicle after consuming any
amount of alcohol. In other words, if an officer testifies
that he could smell and odor of alcohol coming from a
minor's breath the Department of Public Safety can suspend
the license automatically for 60 - 120 days. Generally, an
officer will simply give a citation to a minor if he feels
that they have only consumed a small amount of alcohol and
release them to an adult. However, if the officer feels
that the minor is possibly intoxicated, that individual
can be arrested for DWI.
Intoxication is not an element of Driving Under the
Influence. If an ALR hearing is requested, the Department
of Public Safety is only required to prove that the
officer had 1) a reason to stop the car and 2) a reason to
believe that the minor had consumed any amount of alcohol.
Driving Under the Influence - Criminal Case:
Driving Under the Influence is a Class 'C' misdemeanor
punishable by a maximum fine of $500.00, but no time in
jail, for a first time offender. Repeat offenders would be
subject to higher fines and the possibility of jail time.
Probation, alcohol assessments and classes, as well as,
community service are also required by most prosecutors.
Driving While Intoxicated:
Driving While Intoxicated is a common criminal offense
which affects all types of individuals. The penalties for
DWI are dependent upon the severity of the offense as well
as an individual's history. DWI convictions are enhance
able offenses, meaning that an old conviction will be
considered in punishment of a second conviction. The same
is true for any license suspension which may occur after
Intoxication can occur in one of two ways in Texas. If a
person provides a specimen of blood, breath, or urine
which shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or
great at the time of driving then they are intoxicated by
law. Likewise a person may be intoxicated because of a
loss of their normal use of mental or physical faculties
by introduction of alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription
drugs or a combination of these.
DWI encompasses numerous types of vehicles including
automobiles, boats, planes, amusement park equipment and
other water vessels. If a person is shown to be operating
any of these while intoxicated they risk serious
consequences. Minors can also be arrested for DWI. If a
person is under 21 years of age and is operating a motor
vehicle, they will be subject to the same penalties as an
adult in both the criminal and civil case with one
exception, the license suspension for a minor who provides
a specimen above a 0.08 will be for 60 days instead of 90
Driving While Intoxicated - Civil Case:
A person who is arrested for a DWI can face significant
automatic license suspensions. If a person who submits to
a breath or blood test has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
at or above a 0.08, DPS will try and suspend the person's
driver's license for a minimum 90 days to a maximum 1
year. If a person has a previous alcohol related contact,
like a DWI, within ten years and they provide a specimen,
DPS will attempt to suspend the person's license for a
term of not less than one (1) year.
If, a person refuses to provide a specimen of breath or
blood, DPS will try to suspend a person's driver's license
for no less than 180 days and mo more than 2 years. In the
case of a refusal, actions as well as words can be
considered refusing to provide a specimen. The officer is
not required to obtain a 'no' or 'I refuse', in order to
make that determination. In fact, requesting an attorney
or not answering at all can also be considered a refusal.
These license suspensions are completely independent of
the criminal case. The burden on the Department is
extraordinarily low and most people arrested for DWI
suffer through some type of license suspension. If a
person has a previous alcohol related contact, like a DWI,
within ten years and refuse to provide a specimen, their
license will be suspended for a term of not less than two
Driving While Intoxicated - Criminal Case:
If this is a first time arrest for DWI, it will be
classified as a Class 'B' misdemeanor. The punishment
range for a Class 'B' DWI is not less than three (3) days
in jail and a two thousand dollar ($2000) fine. As with
DUI, alcohol education classes, community service,
probation and court costs are all possibilities when
facing a DWI conviction.
An additional license suspension, independent of the civil
case, may also occur as a result of a DWI conviction.
Because this is an enhance able offense, the punishment
for subsequent DWIs will included significant jail time,
fines and community service hours.
The Texas Legislature has also recently enacted a law
which requires that the Department of Public Safety
collect a surcharge from any individual convicted of DWI.
This surcharge is a fee entirely separate from your
criminal or civil case. If a person refused to provide a
specimen or provided a specimen under 0.15, then they must
pay a surcharge of $1,000 a year for three (3) years after
being convicted of DWI. If a person provided a specimen of
0.16 or above, the surcharge is $2,000 a year for three
(3) years. If the surcharge is not paid it can result in
further license suspensions or cancellation of a person's
driver's license altogether.
DWI Criminal Defense Trial Attorney
812 San Antonio St., Suite 100
Austin, TX 78701
Gibson criminal defense trial attorney in Austin, Texas
handling Drunk Driving (DWI) and Driving Under The
Influence (DUI) in the state of Texas. Travis County, Williamson County, Hays County and Bastrop County. Austin, Georgetown, Manor, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Del Valle, Cedar Park, San Marcos, Bastrop.