Is DUI a criminal offense? What exactly does the charge entitle? Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to a DUI and DWI.
The police arrest approximately 1.5 million people each year for drinking and driving crimes and Texas is a state that is tough on people who commit these crimes.
Are you wondering, “Is DUI a criminal offense in Texas?” The answer is yes. A DUI is a criminal offense, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot fight the charge. With the right legal representation and evidence, you can contest the charges you face.
If you were arrested for a DUI or DWI, here is everything you need to know about facing these charges.
Is DUI a Criminal Offense?
Texas generally labels these driving offenses as DWIs – driving while intoxicated. To get arrested for a DWI, a police officer must test your blood-alcohol content (BAC) or perform a field sobriety test on you.
If your BAC is above the legal limit of 0.08, they will bring you to jail for the crime. You can also get arrested for a DWI if you are driving while mentally impaired from the use of a controlled substance.
In either case, getting arrested for a DWI will result in criminal charges. The charges can range from a Class B misdemeanor to a felony. The classification that the state pursues against you depends on a lot of different factors.
Breaking the law by driving while impaired is a violation that the state of Texas takes seriously. Texas is hard on individuals that break these laws, and you will likely face the consequences for the crime.
What Are the Potential Consequences of a DWI Charge?
If you are wondering about the penalties of a DWI charge, you should understand that they range from mild to severe.
The first factor that affects the penalties you will face is the classification of the charges. If the state charges the crime as a felony, you will face more severe consequences than if they charge the offense as a Class B misdemeanor.
The factors that affect how the court classifies your crime include the type of offense, the details related to the offense, and your criminal history. Here are some of the potential consequences you may face from a DWI charge:
Suspension of Your Driver’s License
When you violate the law by driving while impaired, you take the risk of losing your driving privileges. You might lose your license for a few days or months, or you could lose it for two years.
If you lose your driving privileges, you might have the option of applying for a hardship license. You should talk to a lawyer if you want to learn more about this.
There is also a chance that you might be able to keep your license if you purchase SR-22 auto insurance. If you need this, you will likely need it for three years.
You can also face fines as a consequence of a DWI. The fines can range from $2,000 to $10,000. If the court requires that you pay fines, you must pay them to avoid further trouble.
A DWI charge can also result in serving a required jail sentence. The minimum time you might spend in jail is 72 hours. The maximum is usually around ten years.
Ignition Interlock Device
Texas also requires high-risk drivers to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. An ignition interlock device costs money and prevents you from operating the car if you have alcohol or drugs in your system.
Alcohol or Drug Counseling Classes
The court can also require that you attend alcohol or drug counseling courses. These courses educate people on the harmful effects of drug and alcohol use, especially when using them before or during driving.
You might also have to complete a specific number of hours performing community service. Performing community service is something you must do for free that provides benefits to your area.
As you can see, you can face serious consequences from a DUI charge.
Is There a Difference Between a First Offense and a Second or Third?
One vital thing to understand as you face these charges is the difference between a first offense and a second or third offense. Courts offer lighter punishments and consequences for a first-time DUI compared to a repeat offender.
If you get caught driving while impaired for the first time, you will have better results from your case.
If you get caught driving while impaired with a history of the same violations, the courts may not be as generous to you. Courts view this as a pattern of violation, and as a result, they will punish you more severely.
How Do You Contest the Charges?
The good news is that courts do not prosecute every DWI case they receive. There are times when courts dismiss the charges against people due to a lack of evidence. They may also dismiss the charges if the police failed to abide by the law during the arrest.
One of the rights you have as a U.S. citizen is the choice to contest a DWI charge. Contesting a DWI charge gives you a way to fight the charges you face, and you might win if you have enough evidence to prove your case.
If you want to contest your charges, talk to a DWI lawyer in your city. Your lawyer can review the facts and evidence and give you advice about your rights and options.