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San Antonio DWI defense lawyersThere are many penalties that you can face if you are convicted in Texas for driving while intoxicated. While prison time is a frightening possibility, the loss of your driving privileges is almost a given and may have a lasting effect on your life. Not being allowed to drive could cost you your job and leave you reliant on others for your basic transportation needs. A knowledgeable attorney can help you regain your driving privileges and guide you through the license reinstatement process once you are eligible.

How Long Might You Lose Your License?

The driver’s license suspension that you receive after a DWI conviction is a criminal penalty that is separate from the administrative license suspension that many people receive after being arrested on suspicion of DWI. In Texas:

  • A first-time DWI conviction includes a driver’s license suspension of 90 days to one year.
  • A second or third DWI conviction includes a driver’s license suspension of 180 days to two years.
  • A conviction for DWI with a child passenger in your vehicle can result in a suspension of as long as 180 days.

Following a DWI conviction, the time that your driver’s license was already suspended under the administrative penalty can be credited towards your criminal suspension.

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Will You Lose Your Job Because of Your DWI?There are many ways that being convicted of or even just charged with driving while intoxicated can affect your life. One of the most pressing questions that people ask is “Will I lose my job?” That is an issue that your employer, and not a criminal court, will decide. Most employers in Texas hire workers “at will,” meaning that your employer can terminate your employment at any time and without needing to give a cause – as long as the decision is not based on discriminating against protected traits such as race or gender. For many employers, a DWI conviction or arrest may be enough of a reason to fire an employee.

Incarceration

Your job will likely be in peril if you are sentenced to jail or prison as part of your DWI conviction. The punishment for a first-time DWI conviction can include three to 180 days in prison and may include more time if there are aggravating factors such as a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or over. Your employer does not have to preserve your job while you are incarcerated. Even if your employment contract protects your job, it may have a clause that voids the contract if you are convicted of a crime.

Driving Privileges

A DWI can affect your driving privileges from the moment you are arrested:

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Out-of-State DWI Can Follow You Back to TexasYou may be familiar with the Texas laws regarding driving while intoxicated, but what happens if you are charged and convicted for DWI in another state? Do the penalties from another state also apply in Texas? What if you are a visitor to Texas who is charged with DWI? Your criminal case would take place in the state where you are charged. If convicted, you could pay fines and serve jail time in that state. However, some DWI penalties, such as a driver’s license suspension, can be transferred to your home state.

Interstate Compact

Texas is one of 45 states that are members of the Driver License Compact Commission. Participating states agree to share information about any traffic violations and convictions with the subject’s home state. A state court’s authority is limited to your activities within that state. Thus, it cannot suspend your driving privileges within another state. With the Interstate Compact, your home state will know about your DWI arrest or conviction and has agreed to suspend your license as if you committed the offense in your home state.

Penalties in Texas

Texas has an automatic administrative license suspension of 90 to 180 days if you are arrested on suspicion of DWI. You can attend an administrative hearing to contest your suspension, even if your arrest took place outside of Texas. If you are convicted, your license will be suspended:

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Lawsuit Claims Texas's Driver Responsibility Program Unfair to Low-Income OffendersThe Austin Community Law Center has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas, challenging the state’s Driver Responsibility Program that levies fines against drivers whose licenses have been suspended for violations such as driving while intoxicated. The lawsuit, filed in conjunction with the national civil rights organization Equal Justice Under the Law, claims that the DRP disproportionately punishes low-income offenders who cannot afford the fines they are required to pay to regain their licenses. The lawsuit states that 1.4 million Texas residents have suspended driver’s licenses because they have not been able to pay the DRP surcharge.

Fine System

A court may punish a person convicted for a traffic violation such as a DWI by sentencing him or her to prison, issuing a fine, and suspending his or her driver’s license. Texas’s Driver Responsibility Program imposes additional fines on people whose licenses have been suspended. As part of its program, the DRP:

  • Issues the fines as an annual surcharge for three years;
  • Requires the driver to pay the surcharge as a lump sum or in monthly installments; and
  • Will suspend the license of a driver who misses a payment.

The surcharge amount depends on the offense. There is a $1,000 annual surcharge for a first-time DWI offense, which increases to $1,500 for any subsequent offense. A DWI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or greater has a $2,000 annual surcharge.

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Bexar County

In the historic King William District

1011 S. Alamo,
San Antonio, Texas 78210
210-226-0965
888-726-5625 Toll Free
210-226-7540

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Guadalupe County

109 Court Street,
Seguin, Texas 78155
830-372-1522
888-726-5625 Toll Free