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What Do Your DWI Charges Mean?

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

In the United States, more than 1.5 million people get arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). These are criminal charges that can sidetrack your life in many ways.

If you’d like to bounce back from these charges, it starts with knowing what you’re facing. Understanding criminal charges can be complicated, but we’re happy to help make things clearer.

Here are some tips that you should understand when you’re facing DWI charges.

What Do DWI Charges Mean?

Once you get arrested for DWI, you have to start the process of picking up the pieces. A DWI charge happens when a police officer pulls you over when they suspect that you were operating your motor vehicle while over the alcohol limit.

In Texas and most places, the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for operating a motor vehicle is .08%. This test is administered with a breathalyzer device that measures your BAC.

In other cases, the officer might apply a field sobriety test, which can include things like reciting the alphabet or counting backward, touching both index fingertips to your nose, walking a straight line, and other tests.

Once you fail a test in the field, you’ll be booked in the local jail and have your vehicle impounded. From there, you’ll need to consider other implications at play.

Study the State Code for Your DWI Charges

Start by looking into the Texas state code to understand exactly what it says about DWI cases. Knowing the exact charge that you’re hit with will allow you to hire the best legal defense.

You can find DWI law in Texas Penal Code section 49.04. You will receive a citation following the arrest that explains the charge. Consider whether this is your first DWI offense or a subsequent one.

You will also need to consider whether you have a standard DWI charge or an extreme charge that comes about when your BAC is over .15%.

There may be other factors at play that add to a DWI charge, such as refusing to take a breathalyzer test. In Texas, refusing a breathalyzer test will result in you being treated the same as you would for failing one. This is because Texas is an “implied consent” state.

You’ll also be charged with a felony if you had a minor in your vehicle while driving under the influence. Read up on the state code because understanding DWI vs. DUI can get a bit confusing sometimes.

Learn about Potential Jail Time

Jail time is the elephant in the room when you’re seeking defense in a DWI case. Spending time behind bars can sidetrack your life and add insult to injury now that you have a criminal record.

In Texas, you can receive as much as 180 days in jail if convicted of your first DWI. This also comes with three mandatory days behind bars.

On a second DWI offense, you have to spend a mandatory month in jail and can face as many as 365 days behind bars. For your third DWI, you’ll spend a minimum of a mandatory two years behind bars, and may face up to 10 years in prison.

Consider the Stigma of a Conviction

Understanding a DWI charge meaning requires you to also understand the stigma involved. People and the courts have little sympathy for people who drive while intoxicated, so you’ll face an uphill battle in most cases.

It can become difficult for you to find future employment, rental opportunities, and even loans. This is a lasting stigma, which is why you should always do your best to keep these convictions off of your record.

Think about the Costs Incurred in a DWI Case

You have to also think about the amount of money that you’ll pay whenever you’re facing a DWI case. For one, you’ll need to pay legal fees just to defend yourself.

Once convicted, you may also face fines of $2,000 to $10,000 or more. You have to also consider lost income in the event that you lose your job or future employment opportunities.

Many people also have to pay the costs of having an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. An ignition interlock is a breathalyzer device that you have to use to turn on and operate your vehicle. If you fail a breathalyzer test while trying to drive your vehicle, a probation officer will be notified and you can be taken to jail.

You’ll also expect to see your car insurance rates go up. In many cases, your car insurance company will drop you from your policy.

These costs continue to add up in so many ways whenever you have a DWI conviction.

Factor in Whether You Have a Problem

Don’t overlook the fact that you might have an issue with alcohol addiction. Explore counseling and rehab so that you can overcome these issues and get your life back in order.

The courts might also require you to get addiction therapy as terms of sentencing or a plea agreement.

You Can Get Your License Taken

Finally, you’ll have to also deal with getting your license taken in DWI cases. In most cases, your license gets taken pending the court case. You might be given a temporary license to get you to and from work depending on the nature of your charges.

After a first conviction, you can get your license taken for up to a year. Subsequent charges mean that you might get your license taken for two years. This can hamper your employment opportunities and make your regular life difficult.

Fight Your DWI Charges

DWI charges are serious and require your full attention and consideration. Use the tips above so that you can put together the best legal representation for your DWI case.

Let the law offices of Andrea M. Kolski help you out when you’re facing DWI or other criminal charges. Use our contact form or call us at (832)381-3430.

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The Woodlands Office
8505 Technology Forest Pl #104

The Woodlands, TX 77381

Phone: 832-381-3430

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