Texas takes drunk driving seriously. You can expect to face harsh monetary fines, suspension of your driver’s license, and potentially spend time in jail — even for your first offense. And, once you have served your sentence, you will have a permanent criminal record to remind you — and others — of your mistake.
Having a first offense DWI lawyer in Plano on your side can make a difference in the outcome of your case and protect your rights under the law. Call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg to get started: 214-696-9253.
What are the penalties for a first offense DWI in Plano?
Under Texas law, a first offense DWI (with a blood alcohol concentration [BAC] of 0.08 to 0.149) is a Class B misdemeanor offense, carrying potential penalties and fines as follows:
- Jail time up to 6 months
- Monetary fine up to $2,000
- Driver’s license suspension up to 1 year
With a BAC of 0.15 or above, however, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor. The potential penalties for conviction are as follows:
- Jail time up to 1 year
- Monetary fine up to $4,000
- Driver’s license suspension up to 2 years
Your punishment may also include probation, community service, alcohol counseling, and attendance at a DWI education program. The court may also compel you to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicles that you own.
After the conclusion of your driver’s license suspension, you will have to pay a surcharge each year for three years to retain your license. The surcharge ranges between $1,000 and $2,000 per year.
Will I have a criminal record after a first offense DWI conviction?
Yes. Any conviction for drunk driving in Texas becomes a part of your permanent criminal record. As DWI penalties go, having a drunk driving conviction on your record is one of the harshest.
Auto insurance companies will label you as a high-risk driver. This allows them to refuse coverage or, if you find a company that will agree to provide insurance, charge exorbitant premiums.
Background checks will reflect your conviction as well, potentially jeopardizing your ability to find work or rent an apartment.
Engaging a Texas DWI lawyer is one of the most effective ways to avoid conviction and a permanent criminal record.
Can I keep my license after a Plano DWI arrest?
At the time of your arrest, a police officer will confiscate your driver’s license and serve you with a Notice of Suspension. This form also serves as a temporary driving permit, which allows you to drive legally for 14 days.
Upon expiration of the temporary permit, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will automatically suspend your license — regardless of whether your criminal case goes forward.
You can potentially avoid a driver’s license suspension, however, if you request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. You or your DWI lawyer must formally request the hearing within 15 days, after which you will receive notification of the hearing date and time.
NOTE: This is administrative hearing is unrelated to the criminal portion of your case. Neither proceeding has any bearing on the other.
At the ALR hearing, you and the arresting officer will both testify under oath, after which an administrative law judge will decide the outcome of your suspension.
Because the prosecutor can use your ALR testimony against you in your criminal case, it is important to have a Plano DWI lawyer represent you at the ALR hearing. This will help prevent you from making statements that can hurt your criminal case and give your attorney the opportunity to question the arresting officer.
How can a lawyer help me fight a first offense DWI charge?
To convict you on a DWI charge, the prosecutor must prove in court that you violated the statute by operating a vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. If any of those elements are in doubt, an attorney may be able to successfully fight the charges against you.
If your traffic stop and subsequent arrest did not comply with governing standards, your lawyer may successfully argue to have any subsequent evidence thrown out.
Specifically, the arresting officer must have had reasonable suspicion that you were driving while intoxicated to pull you over. For example, you must have been doing something that would cause an officer to believe you might be under the influence, e.g., swerving, having trouble maintaining speed, driving without lights, running stop signs, etc.
Once the officer made the stop, he must have established probable cause for your arrest. In Texas, this typically involves either field sobriety testing or a portable, roadside breath test.
If you agreed to a field sobriety test, the officer must have conducted the testing in accordance with the field sobriety testing standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If not, and if your DWI lawyer can prove that in court, your arrest may not have been legal.
The officer must have provided you legal due process during your arrest. This requires advising you of your rights prior to questioning you and providing you access to an attorney upon request. If the police violated your rights, your lawyer can potentially use this to have your case dismissed.
Finally, you may be able to fight your DWI charges if your attorney can identify any anomalies in the BAC testing process. The Texas statutes set forth BAC testing requirements that all officers must use. Officers must also follow Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) and NHTSA standards for DWI testing. If the police did not comply 100 percent with these standards, your lawyer may capitalize on that fact to your advantage.
Why do I need a DWI lawyer for a first offense?
Any DWI, including your first offense, can seriously impact your life.
Even if you have no prior record, the prosecution will hit you with the maximum penalties it can get away with. If you go to court without a DWI lawyer to represent you, it may try to take advantage of your inexperience.
A first offense DWI lawyer understands the Plano court system and the governing Texas laws. Your attorney will also know how to obtain and analyze the evidence in your case, and to use it in your defense.
In many cases, a Plano DWI attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to have your charges dismissed or reduced, potentially saving you from having to go to court.
Unless you are prepared to live with the consequences of a DWI conviction for the rest of your life, you need a lawyer.
How to choose a first offense DWI lawyer in Plano
Start by looking for a local attorney who will review your case, answer your questions, and explain your options. You need an advocate to help you understand the serious nature of your charges and how a conviction may affect your life.
At the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg, we will provide you with a complimentary consultation and case review, to help you make a decision about your future. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or speak to a first offense DWI lawyer in Plano: 214-696-9253.