Consequences Associated with a DWI Conviction – and Why You Need a Qualified Criminal Lawyer

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is the one crime where people who would not otherwise find themselves in criminal trouble, do find themselves in criminal trouble.  Respected members of our society find themselves arrested and charged with DWI all the time. Why? Why do people who would never be arrested for any other type of offense find themselves in jail charged with DWI?  What are the consequences if you are convicted of a DWI?Keys

There is no doubt that DWI is a serious offense that puts the lives of others in danger. Any person who does not have the normal use of their mental or physical faculties should not be driving. But what is the law and why are so many people arrested every year for the offense of DWI when we all know it’s illegal and dangerous?  I believe there are two main reasons.

First, most of the time, you don’t get caught.  We justify the behavior by convincing ourselves we are okay to drive, I will be careful, I only have a mile or two to go to get home, and guess what, most of the time you do successfully get home.

Second, social drinking is a big and accepted part of our culture.  We allow drinking in public places when we are all aware that person will soon be driving home.

But the fact remains that it is not illegal to drink and then drive. That is why bars have parking lots.  It is certainly a good practice and probably a wise decision to never have a sip of alcohol and drive a car, but doing so does not necessarily make you guilty of DWI, it does not make you a bad person or a criminal.  The Texas Department of Public Safety places signs all of Texas highways that read: “Drink, Drive, Go to Jail”.  However, it’s not illegal to drink and then drive. It is only illegal when you drink to the point that you do not have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties due to alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of these substances or by having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at the time you were driving.  However, good people are often arrested after they have been drinking even though they have not reached the level of intoxication. Others find themselves also arrested and charged with DWI after making a poor decision to drive after becoming intoxicated.  The consequences you now face can be severe and possibly life-changing.  Below are some of the most common consequences facing someone charged with a first, second or even third DWI.

The most common consequences from a legal perspective include:

First Conviction – Class B Misdemeanor (if your BAC is blow .15)
Up to a $2,000 fine
Up to 180 days in jail

Up to a 2-year probation
Up to a 1-year driver’s license suspension

$1,000 every year for three years to keep your driver’s license (Driver Responsibility Act)
Possible Interlock on any vehicle you operate

Second Conviction – Class A Misdemeanor (or a first with a BAC over .15)
Up to a $4,000 fine
Up to one year in jail

Up to a 2-year probation
Suspended driver’s license for up to two years
$1,500 to $2000 every year for three years to keep your driver’s license (Driver Responsibility Act)
Possible Interlock on any vehicle you operate

Third Conviction – Third Degree Felony
Up to a $10,000 fine
Up to ten years in prison

Up to a 10-year probation
Suspended driver’s license for up to two years
$2,000 every year for three years to keep your driver’s license (Driver Responsibility Act) Interlock on any vehicle you operate

The most severe consequence, in my opinion, is that if you are convicted of any level of DWI,  the conviction remains on your criminal record for the rest of your life. It is important to hire a qualified criminal lawyer that understands DWI and will fight for you.

Most of the people who hire me to represent them in a DWI case are law-abiding citizens who have never been in any trouble before. Until now, they have never been in jail or ever had to read about the criminal justice process in any detail. And they certainly have never had any reason to hire a criminal attorney. The uncertainty of the process and what will happen causes a huge amount of stress and anxiety.

If you have been arrested for a DWI, please call me at (817) 284-2263 to set up a free consultation where we can discuss your case. Just because you are charged with a DWI does not necessarily mean you will be convicted.  I will fight to get the best possible outcome to protect you and your family’s future.

Law Office of Stephen Handy

Criminal Lawyer – Fort Worth, Tx