When an individual is pulled over and given a field sobriety or chemical test to determine their sobriety, they are often overwhelmed with feelings of panic and fear. DWI (commonly referred to as “DUI”) is a serious crime that carries the stigma of being one of the most aggressively punished offenses in the Texas Judicial System.
For individuals facing these charges, acquiring the legal representation of a knowledgeable defense attorney in Travis County is of extreme importance. If you have been arrested for a first DWI in Texas, contact Austin DWI criminal defense lawyer Kevin Bennett at The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today.
Texas DWI Offense Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated for the first time, it is understandable for you to be extremely concerned with your future. The best way to ease those concerns is to hire a qualified Texas DUI lawyer who can fight for you.
Kevin Bennett of The Law Office of Kevin Bennett tenaciously represents clients in Travis County, Lakeway, Austin, Pflugerville, Lago Vista, and the surrounding areas. Call (512) 476-4626 to schedule a consultation with a skilled DWI attorney in Austin who has extensive client reviews and testimony to back up their experience about your charges. Your initial consultation is free, and it is the first step in the defense planning process.
- Texas Drinking and Driving Laws
- What Happens if I Refuse a Blood Alcohol Test in Texas?
- Penalties in Texas for a First Time DWI
- Is Jail Time Mandatory for a First DUI in Texas?
- Can a First Time DUI Be Expunged in Texas?
- Fines for First DWI Conviction
- Additional Resources
Anytime an individual is found to be in actual physical control of a vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, he or she can be charged with DWI. Tex. Pen. Code Ann. Section 49.01 defines intoxicated as being unable to control your mental or physical faculties in a normal way, due to the consumption of drugs, alcohol, or any combination of the two or having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
When a law enforcement official suspects that an individual is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she will usually ask the individual to submit to a chemical test. The most commonly used tests include the blood, breath, and urine tests.
Implied consent laws are laid out under section 724.011 of the Texas Transportation Code Ann.. These laws state that anyone who accepts the privilege of operating a motor vehicle in Texas, has given their implied consent to submit to a chemical test, at the request of a law enforcement official, for the purpose of determining their sobriety.
If an individual submits to a chemical test and his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured at or above .08, he or she will automatically be arrested for driving while intoxicated. If the defendant refused to submit to a chemical test, they face a driver’s license suspension for a minimum of 180 days.
A first time offender of this crime will be charge with a Class B misdemeanor, and if not given probation, be ordered to serve at least 72 hours in jail. If the offender had an open container of alcohol in his or her immediate possession, the minimum jail sentenced will be increased to six days. A first time conviction also carries DPS surcharges of $1,000 to $2,000 to maintain a driver’s license.
The charges for first time drunk driving can be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor if a chemical test showed the defendant’s BAC was 0.15 or higher. This could result in between 30 days to a year in jail, the loss of driving privileges for up to two years, and/or a fine of up to $4,000. A first time conviction with a BAC of 0.15 or higher also carries driver’s license surcharges of $1,000 to $2,000.
Jail time, while it can happen, isn’t mandatory according to the sentencing requirements for first time DWI offenders. The decision whether you go to jail will depend on the discretion of the judge. Certain egregious factors such as having a child passenger or seriously injuring someone because of your DWI can result in a minimum jail sentence. Even if you’re facing a standard DWI charge without any aggravating factors, that doesn’t mean you should relax.
No one is guaranteed anything in court, even when the factors seem to be in your favor. You could still spend some still in jail even for a basic DWI conviction. That is why it’s highly recommended you seek legal representation if you’ve been charged with a DWI in Texas. An skilled and knowledgeable attorney can review your legal options and guide you through the judicial system so you receive the best result possible.
A common question for defense attorneys is whether or not a first time DWI conviction can be expunged in the state of Texas. The short answer is no. The state of Texas does not allow expunctions for any convictions which does include driving while intoxicated. However, if you weren’t convicted and your drunk driving charge resulted in the following, you’ll be able to expunge your record.
- The charges were never filed in the first place
- You were found not guilty of the DWI charge
- You were able to overturn the conviction upon appeal
- The case was dismissed by the court
It’s important to remember that when a charge is expunged that means all the files related to the case are deleted, erased or destroyed. That means no government entities, or the general public will be able to access your criminal record. You will also be legally allowed to state you were never charged with a crime in an interview if your record was expunged.
If you’re not able to expunge your DWI charge, you may be able to seal it. Sealing your criminal record is similar to expungement, but they don’t completely destroy the files associated with your record. Instead your arrest and charges will no longer be available to the public, but some government entities and licensing agencies may be able to discover your charges. Although sealing your record doesn’t erase it entirely, it does hide your record from possible future employers, landlords, or peers.
Recent legislation has allowed DWI defendants to now obtain deferred adjudication, which is the requirement one must complete to seal their criminal record. The court only allows first time DWI offenders to obtain deferred adjudication. If any of the following factors occurred during the commission of the DWI, then deferred adjudication is not available.
- Your BAC was .16 or higher
- Someone was seriously injured or lost their life due your DWI
- You are a commercial driver’s license holder
If you’re able to obtain deferred adjudication, you must fulfill all the conditions imposed by the judge. These conditions are very similar to probation such as random drug tests, alcohol and substance abuse classes, and check ins with your probation officer. You can then file a petition to seal your record two years after your deferred adjudication has ended. The judge will set a hearing and at the court date will decide if you’re eligible for a record seal.
Texas has some of the harshest criminal penalties for DWI in the country. What you might not know though is how destructive an DWI conviction can be on your finances. Many first time DWI offenders are shocked when they receive the bill for various fees during and after a DWI conviction. Although it might seem counterintuitive, hiring a lawyer is the best financial decision to ensure you’re spending what you have to resolve your DWI case.
An experienced first offense DUI attorney in Texas will understand what fees are necessary and what aren’t. They can even help you request leniency from the court by setting up a payment plan. These and other practices your attorney can implement could save you a pretty penny.
The following are expenses you’ll be expected to pay for a first DWI conviction.
- Court fines
- Punishment fees
- Probation fees
- Driver’s license surcharges
- SR-22 fees
- Ignition interlock device installation and fees
- Impound fees
- Alcohol and substance abuse class cost
- SR-22 fees
DWI Search Methods by Police Changed by COVID-19 – Visit the official website of ABC 13 news to read up on how COVID-19 has caused law enforcement to search for new crackdown methods to find drunk drivers. Access the site to read the article by Caitlyn Peter and learn what saturation patrols are, how COVID-19 has caused delays for processing offenders, and the backlash this has caused within the community.
Overview of DWI Laws in Texas – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to read their driving while intoxicated (DWI) and other alcohol-related laws in the state. Access the site to read the elements of DWI, what factors could enhance your penalties, and other relevant information.
Texas Department of Transportation: DUI – Access the official website for the Texas Department of Transportation to view information regarding driving under the influence (DUI). You can view penalties and read information regarding drunk driving with a child passenger.
Austin First DWI Defense Attorney | Travis County, TX
Kevin Bennett is an experienced defense lawyer who is prepared to fight for individuals who have been charged with their first DWI in Austin, Lago Vista, Travis County, Lakeway, Pflugerville, and the surrounding areas. In order to put yourself in the best position to maintain your freedom, contact The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today if you have been charged with DUI. Let Kevin Bennett fight for you.
If you have been charged with DUI, call (512) 476-4626 to schedule a consultation about the details surrounding your case. Your initial consultation is free, and it is the first step in fighting to maintain your driving privileges.