Have you recently been arrested for DWI?
DWI vs DUI
Here in Texas, the difference between a DWI and a DUI is very distinct. A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is applied to people who are under 21 years old and is considered a class ‘C’ Misdemeanor. This carries a fine, a driver’s license suspension (during arrest or once receiving the citation/ ticket) as well as a separate suspension of the driver’s license if convicted. Considering the impact that this can have on a persons day to day life, there is the option to request an Administrative License Review hearing, also known as an ALR hearing to challenge the suspension of the license. The hearing must be requested within 15 days of arrest or citation. A DUI citation can be given if the officer requests a breath test and any alcohol is detected. Though a minor may refuse a breath test when arrested, if the officer smells alcohol on the driver they can give them a citation. The penalty is still rather sever and a can have a serious impact.
A DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is applicable to both minors and adults alike. A person can be arrested for DWI for having consumed either alcohol or drugs (including prescription drugs). A DWI can be proven in several ways and regardless of the use of a breath test, one can still be charged with a DWI. It is incredibly important to consult with an expert DWI and DUI attorney like Attorney Art Warren because here in Texas the laws involving DWI’s get tougher and tighter every year. An individual can be arrested for DWI whether they have consumed alcohol or drugs, even if the drugs are prescription drugs. Whether you take a breath test or not, you can be charged with DWI. DWI can be proven in one of three ways: (1) having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or more, (2) not having your normal mental faculties, or (3) not having your normal physical faculties; due to alcohol or drugs.
Breath or Blood Tests
Consequences of Refusing a Breath or Blood Test:
- If you refuse a breath test, DPS will try and suspend your driver’s license for a period of 180 days if you have never had a DWI before. If you have had a prior DWI or were asked to take a breath test before, the suspension could be two (2) years.
- The fact that you refused a breath test can be used against you in trial. Again, the courts have determined that you have no 5th Amendment protection against self incrimination regarding a Breath or Blood Test.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT YOU ONLY HAVE 15 DAYS TO REQUEST A HEARING TO CHALLENGE YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSION.
Consequences of Taking the Breath of Blood Test:
- If you take a breath or blood test and the test reveals that you have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days if this is your first DWI, or up to one (1) year if you have a prior DWI or alcohol suspension.
- You just gave the State evidence to convict you.
- Even if you pass the Breath or Blood test, you can still be charged and convicted of DWI.
There are certain conditions that must be met in order to reduce a DWI charge to a DUI. For example, it must be a first offense and the driver’s BAC may not be excessively over the state’s legal limit.
There are some states in the U.S. that have created a zero tolerance policy. These states do not make a distinction between a DUI and DWI. The laws in zero tolerance states mandate that any BAC over the legal limit is a crime. Further complicating matters, other states use the terms of DUI and DWI to signify whether drugs impaired a driver – or alcohol impaired a driver. The term DUI is used if a person is under the influence of drugs.
No matter where you live, the laws for drunk driving grow increasingly tougher with the passage of time. Every state has a minimum BAC of .08 percent. The laws regarding DUI and DWI are constantly changing, and the number of states that differentiate between DWI and DUI is shrinking. There are also several states that use the terms OWI and OUI, with the word “driving” being replaced with the word “operating.”
Texas DWI Penalties
Classifications and Range of Punishment for DWI Conviction
Community Service – Texas law mandates that a judge order not less than 24 hours nor more than 100 hours.
Absent unusual facts, most persons convicted of a first offense DWI are granted community supervision (“probation”) of any confinement ordered. The general length of DWI probation is from 1-2 years. There are also conditions of community supervision ordered that are fairly standard in most courts. Typical conditions imposed are:
- Drug/Alcohol Evaluation – A person convicted of DWI will be required to submit to evaluation for probability of committing DWI in the future and/or to disclose a potential problem with alcohol or drug abuse. If a problem is detected, additional terms and conditions of probation are ordered to be administered through the Community Supervision Department.
- Attend and complete an approved DWI Education class within 180 days from the date of conviction (Satisfying this requirement will avoid the one (1) year drivers license suspension, unless if you were a minor (under 21) at the time of the offense.)
- Attend and complete a Victim Impact Panel. This is a forum that presents victims of drunk drivers to address persons convicted of DWI and warn of the dangers and perils of driving while intoxicated.
- Work faithfully at suitable employment, commit no other crimes, remain at the same residence and employment unless notification is given to the community supervision officer, report monthly to the supervision office, pay all fines and costs in a timely manner.
- Pay a monthly supervisory fee. Perform a specified hours of community or volunteer service.
NOTE: If convicted, you will be given an Order Granting Probation. This Order will be specific and unique to your case and fully sets forth the terms and conditions of your probation which apply to you. It is the blueprint for your probation.