A DWI is a significant criminal law offense. It can cause serious injury or death to passengers and occupants of other vehicles.
In Austin Texas, a DWI occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. There are two ways of determining a DWI: 1) Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more; or 2) Not having the normal use of mental and physical faculties by reason of alcohol, as determined by field sobriety tests. A person may also face a DWI charge for using a prescription drug even when no alcohol is involved.
DWIs have several classifications and the potential penalties vary by factors including: your BAC, prior convictions, whether minors were present, and, whether there are injuries or deaths involved.
In general, a first DWI offense is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. Your driver’s license can be suspended for up to one year as well. A second offense is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $4,000 fine, and up to two years suspended license. A third offense is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.For third DWI offenses, judges will require an ignition interlock be fitted to your vehicle. This requires you to breathe into the device to start the car.
An aggravated DWI increases the penalties if certain circumstances exist. The severity of the punishment depends on the aggravating factor:
A DWI where your BAC was 0.15% or more is charged as a Class A misdemeanor.
If the police find an open alcohol container in your car when they pull you over, this becomes a Class B misdemeanor and can result in six days of mandatory jail time.
If you have a minor under 15 years in your car when you’re pulled over, you will face felony charges. A conviction could result in up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you drive drunk and cause an accident that results in serious injury, you will face a third-degree felony charge of intoxication assault.
If you kill someone as a result of an accident while driving drunk, you’ve committed a second-degree felony of intoxication manslaughter. This carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
A DWI charge must be dealt with quickly as the police will take your license and give you a 15-day temporary license. You have only these 15 days to request a hearing contesting the suspension of your driver’s license. If you fail to request a hearing, your license will be automatically suspended on the 40th day following your arrest for a period of 90 days. Even if it is your first DWI, you mayhave to pay an annual fee of $1,000 to $2,000 for three years in order to have your license reinstated. You can also face probation for one year.
An Austin DWI Lawyer Can Fight for You
Texas DWI laws are complex as are the practices of prosecutors and judges with respect to DWI charging and sentencing. You want an experienced Austin DWI Lawyer who knows the courts representing you and working to reduce the charges, plea to a lesser offense, or get the charges dropped, if possible. Our Austin DWI Lawyers assist clients confronted with DWI charges and have been successful in asserting their rights. A general practice lawyer may not have the skills or understandings that we do to protect your interests.
If you have been charged with a crime, or have previously been charged or convicted of a crime, you should consult one of our Austin, TX Criminal Lawyers to assess your situation and see if your record can be cleared. Our attorneys will work hard to evaluate your case, explain your options, and work to clear your record.
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