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What You Need To Know About DWIs in Texas


Texas law enforcement officials recently renewed their efforts to “crack down” on driving while intoxicated (DWI) in the state. The penalties for being convicted of a Texas DWI in court are severe, but an arrest on suspicion of DWI does not prove that you are guilty.

What happens if you get a DWI in Texas?

If you get a DWI in Texas — whether you are visiting Texas or are a Texas resident — you will need to face charges in Texas. As such, you will be subject to Texas DWI laws. Under Texas law, there are serious penalties for a DWI charge in Texas. Indeed, as a fact sheet from the Texas Department of Transportation makes clear, offenses for a DWI in our state depend upon whether it is a first offense or a subsequent offense. Whether or not you have been charged with a DWI in Texas, you can be arrested and charged with a DWI if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater.

What happens if you are a Texas resident and charged with a DWI or DUI in another state?

If you are a Texas resident and are charged with a DWI or a DUI in another state, you will face the penalties associated with the charge in that particular state. But there may be consequences in Texas, too.

According to a fact sheet from the Texas Department of Public Safety, an offense such as a DWI that is committed outside of Texas actually can impact a Texas resident’s driver eligibility in our state. Indeed, “any individual who has a suspended driving status in another state or jurisdiction is not eligible for a Texas driver license,” and a DWI in another state can lead to the cancellation of a Texas license.

If you do receive a DWI and lose your Texas license, you will need to take steps to have your license reinstated. An experienced Dallas DWI attorney can help.

What are the penalties if you get a DWI in Texas?

If you were driving in Texas while you were a resident of another state, you will be subject to Texas DWI laws. Whether you are a Texas resident charged with a DWI in Texas, or if you are charged in Texas while traveling from another state, you should hire a DWI defense attorney in Texas. As the Texas Department of Transportation explains, the punishment for a DWI depends on the number of convictions on your record.

For a first offense in Texas, penalties can include:

  • Fine of up to $2,000;
  • Between three and 180 days in jail;
  • Loss of your driver’s license for up to one year; and/or
  • Annual fee (for three years) of $1,000 or $2,000 in order to keep your driver’s license.

For a second DWI offense in Texas, the following penalties may apply:

  • Fine of up to $4,000;
  • One month to one year in jail;
  • Loss of your driver’s license for up to two years; and/or
  • Annual fee (for three years) of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 in order to keep your driver’s license.

For someone charged with a DWI third offense in Texas, penalties can include:

  • $10,000 fine;
  • Two to 10 years in prison;
  • Loss of your driver’s license for up to two years; and
  • Annual fee (for three years) of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 in order to keep your driver’s license.

In addition, if you receive two or more DWI convictions within a period of five years, Texas law requires you to install a “special ignition switch that prevents your vehicle from being operated if you’ve been drinking,” according to the Texas Department of Transportation. And to make clear, it does not matter if you are a resident of another state. If you are pulled over and charged with a DWI in Texas, you will face Texas DWI penalties.

What are my rights if I am pulled over for a DWI in Dallas?

The best way to avoid a DWI charge is to avoid drinking and driving. However, if you have gotten behind the wheel after drinking a beer or two, or having a glass of wine with dinner, it is important to know your rights if you are pulled over for a DWI in Dallas:

  • You have the right to refuse a blood alcohol or breath test, as the Texas Department of Transportation makes clear. However, you do need to know that there are consequences for refusing to take one of these tests. As the Texas DOT explains, refusing to take a blood alcohol or breath test will result in the automatic suspension of your driver’s license for 180 days.
  • You have the right to refuse to answer any questions if you have been stopped. Whether you have been stopped at a DWI checkpoint or were pulled over for speeding or another traffic violation that suggests to the law enforcement officer that you may have been driving while intoxicated, you do not have to answer any questions that the police officer asks you. You do have to provide your license and registration, but you do not have to supply the officer with information about your whereabouts before you got on the road, where you are headed, or how much alcohol you have consumed recently.
  • You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests requested by a law enforcement officer. If you are asked to repeat the alphabet backwards, to count numbers, to walk a straight line and turn, or to follow an object with your eyes, you can decline. You have the right to decline any and all field sobriety tests. Although your refusal may result in your arrest, an experienced Dallas DWI defense attorney can help with your case.

How Can an Dallas DWI Attorney Help?

If you’re arrested on suspicion of DWI in Texas, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced DWI defense lawyer. Why?

  • Your lawyer will protect your rights. The police and the prosecutor are not on your side. They will be looking for any evidence they can find to use against you in court, whether it’s for a DWI, or another criminal charge with causing injury to another. Your attorney can make sure that your case is handled according to the law, so that your rights are respected and protected.
  • DWI is rarely an “open and shut” case. It’s easy to assume that if your breath or blood test came back positive for alcohol or drugs, there is nothing you can do to fight the charges. That’s simply not the case. In fact, even so-called “scientific evidence” can produce false positives if strict procedures are not followed. Your attorney can make sure evidence is handled correctly and raise a challenge if it isn’t.
  • Your attorney can help you get your driving privileges restored while your case is pending. You have a limited amount of time to request a hearing to have your driving privileges restored while the courts look at your DWI case. Your lawyer can represent you at this hearing to help you get your driving privileges back, so you can work and take care of your family.

These are just a few of the many ways that a DWI defense attorney can protect your rights if you’ve been charged with DWI in Texas.

At Kraft & Associates, P.C., our experienced Texas DWI defense attorneys are dedicated to fighting for the best possible outcome for every client we represent. If you’ve been charged with a DWI in Texas, don’t wait. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

About 

Stacy Webb is a Director at Kraft & Associates, Attorneys at Law, P.C in Dallas, TX and focuses on Immigration and Personal Injury Cases.

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