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The Real Cost a DWI Arrest

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

The consequences of a DWI case can haunt you for the rest of your life. They remain on your record and may be accessed by employers, neighbors, family, or anyone who searches the database. The negative stigma of a DWI conviction can be felt years, even decades afterward. (If you’re interested in getting a previous DWI conviction off your record, click here.)

Texas is especially tough on DWIs and a DWI in Texas carries stiff penalties. There is very little sympathy for offenders who make the mistake of driving while intoxicated. Elected officials and community leaders feel the strict laws are justified. Many cite the high number of alcohol-related cases that hurt or kill Texans every 20 minutes, notes The Right Step.

DWI charges include months-long jail sentences, high fines, and invasive monitoring.

You’ve probably asked: Are there any DWI attorneys near me? Of course, there are thousands of DWI attorneys in Texas. But, hiring the right one can make all the difference in your outcome.

Hiring a good DWI attorney is critical because they can immediately get to work to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Like it or not, hiring the wrong attorney or representing yourself could cost you more in the long run.

This article will explore DWI penalties in greater detail. Let’s explore.

DWI Definition In Texas

Within the confines of Texas law, a DWI involves the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated by a mind-altering substance. The offender could be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When it comes to alcohol, you’ll face a DWI charge if your BAC level is over 0.08%.

For drugs, perpetrators may have consumed illegal drugs that impaired their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Prescription drugs that impair the ability to drive are also considered intoxicants.

First Time DWI Offenses

In Texas, a DWI qualifies as a class B misdemeanor. This type of sentence can generally carry up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

When it comes to DWIs, a first-time offense typically comes with a sentence of between 12 hours to six months in jail. If you have a BAC of 0.15% or more, you can get up to 12 months in jail. A first-time conviction can carry other long-term consequences, such as:

  • A license suspension ranging from 3 to 12 months
  • Fines running up to $2,000 ($4,000 if your BAC is more than 0.15%)
  • An interlock device installed in your vehicle

An interlock device forces you to take a breathalyzer test before operating a vehicle. You must use the device for a predetermined period dictated by the court.

You may be able to avoid a license suspension if you install this device in your car. On the other hand, you must pay for the device, which can cost between $70 to $150 in Texas. Then, you must pay a subscription fee that costs between $60 to $80 monthly.

Repeat Offenses

For your second offense, expect jail time between 90 to 12 months, with a minimum $4,000 fine. License suspensions will be even longer, lasting anywhere from 180 days to two years.

If you have a previous conviction within the past five years, you must have an ignition device installed in your car for a year. The same stiff penalty will apply to a third-time offense.

For jail time, a third-time offense typically carries sentences of 2 to 10 years. The fine will also be $10,000. License suspensions can stretch from 180 days to two years.

The Cost of a DWI on Your Record

Consider the following lifetime consequences of a DWI:

  • An employer could let you go, or you could be denied certain job opportunities
  • Your housing options may be limited
  • A lender can reject your loan application
  • A learning institution can deny you admission

First-time offenders aren’t exempt from these consequences either. Additionally, DWI offenders may fall back into the system for worse crimes.

Since a DWI record can keep offenders in dire circumstances, many commit more serious crimes out of desperation. You can have the record removed, but an expungement comes with its own set of costs.

The Cost of Expungement

For a misdemeanor, the cost of expungement in Texas is up to $1,000. However, expungement can cost you time as well. After you file, expect a hearing in about a month. After, you must appear before the court to plead your case. Overall, it can take six months for the court to reach a verdict.

That said, there are limited circumstances in which expungement is applicable:

  • You were a minor who was convicted of a DWI
  • Your DWI charges were dismissed
  • Police filed DWI charges against you, but the arrest remains on your record
  • You beat the DWI charge
  • You have a first-time DWI conviction

Recently, Texas has granted expungement hearings to first-time offenders. Regardless of your record, seek a DWI attorney who has experience with expungements for further assistance. They can help you present your case in the best possible light at the expungement hearing.

Sealing a DWI

If you don’t qualify for expungement, sealing the record of your DWI another option. Whereas an expungement eliminates the record, a seal would conceal it. However, various standards apply.

For example, this must be your first DWI offense. Also, your BAC cannot be over 0.15%. Moreover, you cannot have another conviction.

Even if you qualify, you won’t get an immediate hearing. The waiting list for sealed cases can take years, depending on the nature of your case. However, an experienced DWI lawyer may be able to work with the court to get a hearing much sooner. A minimum five-year waiting period will apply if your case involved an interlock requirement.

Avoiding a DWI Is Key

The best way to avoid DWI consequences is to drive free of alcohol and drugs. The fines include court fines, license reinstatement fines, and expungement fines. Above all, a DWI can cost lives, which carries harsher sentences if you take a life while intoxicated.

If you’re asking, “Are there any DWI lawyers near me?” Yes there are and we’re ready to help. Click here to talk to a Texas DWI lawyer about your situation.

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