Tag Archives: DWI

California’s new ignition interlock bill what does it do?

Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I was recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in California. I understand that they have changed their DUI laws with regards to the ignition interlock device. I am wondering how the changes to the law will affect my DUI penalties.”

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Third Texas DWI will I be charged with a felony?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have a drinking problem. Last night after leaving a bar in Austin, Texas, I was arrested. My blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was well over the legal limit of 0.08%. This will be my third Texas DWI in three years. I am wondering if I will be convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony DWI in Texas?

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DWI: Reinstating my Texas Drivers License

Texas drivers who refuse to take a blood or breath chemical test after a drunk driving arrest may have their Texas license suspended for 90 days to 2 years. Commercial drivers who refuse a test will face an automatic one year license suspension. Drivers have the legal right to challenge the administrative license suspension by requesting an Administrative License Revocation hearing.

Texas Department of Public Safety

Texas Department of Public Safety (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What must be done prior to License Reinstatement?

 

Drivers who are not convicted of DWI may reinstate their license after the completion of the administrative suspension. Drivers who are convicted of DWI must complete the requirements outlined in their penalty phase of their conviction:

  • Complete an alcohol education program (programs must be authorized by the Texas Department of State Health Services)
  • Complete their potentially 2 year license suspension
  • Drivers who are under 21 years of age may be allowed to install a ignition interlock device and have their license suspended for 90 days. Community service is also generally ordered in these cases.
  • Pay all of the DWI fees and penalties

Reinstatement Requirements for Texas License

(Information provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety)

  1. First, all drivers must pay the license reinstatement fee
  2. Get proof of SR-22 insurance. This information must be sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety and must be maintained for 2 years from the date of the DWI conviction.
  3. Turn in proof that the driver has completed the Alcohol Education program. This information must also be sent to the Texas Department of Public Transportation.

As mentioned above, drivers who are arrested for DWI may face an administrative suspension and a suspension from a DWI conviction. These suspensions generally run concurrently.

Online Texas License Reinstatement

Texas has implemented an online system to help drivers reinstate their license. It is called the License Eligibility system. When you log in you can pay your reinstatement fees online as well as complete a license eligibility application.

The system will also outline all the requirements you must meet to reinstate your license: view compliance items, pay fees and track your eligibility status. To login you will need your driver’s license or ID number, the last four digits of your Social Security number and your date of birth.

If you cannot use the system but you can send your compliance documents (without fees) to the Texas Department of Public Safety all information can be mailed or faxed to the following address:

Texas Department of Public Safety

Enforcement and Compliance Services
P.O. Box 4087
Austin TX 78773-0320
Fax: (512) 424-2848
E-mail: driver.improvement@dps.texas.gov. E-mailed documents must be in PDF format.

Drivers who cannot pay their fees online must submit their compliance forms with their fees to the following address:

Texas Department of Public Safety

Central Cash Receiving
P.O. Box 15999
Austin TX 78761-5999

Please submit a check or money order only made payable to Texas DPS and include a copy of the suspension notice along with your full name, date of birth, and driver license number.

Drivers who have more questions about their license reinstatement process in Texas can contact the Texas Department of Public Safety or a Texas DWI lawyer.

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Drunk Driving and aTexas Occupational License

Texas drivers arrested for drunk driving in the state of Texas can generally get an occupational license which will allow them to operate a non-commercial motorized vehicle if they have had their license suspended.

When can I use my Texas occupational License?

 

The Texas Department of Public Safety allows an occupational license to be used “in connection with a person’s occupation, for educational purposes or in the performance of essential household duties.” Drivers who have had their license suspended for drunk driving are barred from driving for any other reason.

If you would like to apply for an occupational license after a Texas drunk driving arrest you must make your request for the occupational license in the district court in the county of your residence or in the court (who has jurisdiction) where the drunk driving offense occurred.

Remember, even if the court has provided you with the court order granting you the right to get an occupational license, you must first submit the court order along with the other requirements to the Department of Issuance of an Occupational License. DPS recognizes that it will take a few days to get your occupational license, and you can use the court order for 30 days while the Texas Department of Public Safety processes your request.

What do I send to the Texas Department of Public Safety?

 

  • You must send a certified copy of the petition and the court order granting the occupational license. The Texas Department of Public Safety states that “if the individual is participating in a special drug court program, the petition is not required. The judge has the authority to grant an occupational order.”
  • You must submit proof that you have purchased SR-22 insurance. There is a specific form that must be completed, and this is the only proof of insurance which is accepted by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
  • You must pay the occupational license fee for one year or less.
  • You must pay all reinstatement fees

Note: Rules for obtaining a commercial license vary. Contact the Texas Department of Public Safety if you have questions about how to reinstate your Texas commercial license after a drunk driving arrest in Texas.

Mail all forms to:

Texas Department of Public Safety
Central Cash Receiving
P.O. Box 15999
Austin TX 78761-5999

Other License Options in Texas

 

Texas also offers some drivers the option of installing an ignition interlock device and operating their motorized vehicle with a restricted ignition interlock license. The ignition interlock device allows drivers to blow a sample of their breath into the device, which monitors the amount of alcohol in their breath, prior to starting the car.

One benefit of the restricted license is the driver may have the freedom to drive wherever they want to drive without the restrictions of the occupational license. Of course, installing the device can be expensive and drivers must pay the applicable state fees. Drivers also cannot get this type of license if their license is expired, suspended or they have not paid the necessary fees.

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Controlling DWI Repeat Offenders

Thousands of drivers are arrested every year across the United States for DUI, and many of them are repeat offenders. We may want to believe that DUI offenders make a simple mistake, one bad decision, one that will not be repeated, but the statistics prove this is not the case. In some states, Minnesota for instance, nearly half of the 30,000 people arrested for drunken driving each year are repeat offenders!

Some of the best and brightest minds in the country- policemen, court officials, mental health doctors and legislatures have united to solve the complicated problem of repeat DUI offenders.

Over the years a wide variety of enforcement programs have been created to address DUI, and while DUI does seem to be on the decline, it is clear that all of their efforts have failed to eliminate the problem of DUI and DUI repeat offenders.

Certain states have begun using more innovative DUI reduction strategies. According to the Tenth District Court Judge James Dehn, the principal developer of several new strategies he has concluded that newer approaches to DUI enforcement have “the advantage of providing clear and certain incentives and punishment at the day of sentencing, distinct from traditional sentencing”.

Court Judge James Dehn has served for 15 years on the district court bench in Minnesota and he has personally sentenced thousands of DUI offenders. Frustrated with the traditional DUI sanctions and penalties, he began to look for more effective legal controls to decrease the recidivism rate for DUI repeat offenders.

While he continues to use the traditional sentencing including incarceration, high fines and parole, he has added less tradition options such as REAM or remote electronic alcohol monitoring which allows the court to request an immediate alcohol reading from a programmed telephone, especially for repeat DUI offenders, who the courts recognize have either a chemical dependency or a mental illness.

Judge Jams Dehn has also continued to use common but less traditional options to control DWI repeat offenders such as counseling, chemical dependency and community service.

Judge Dehn is also the developer of staggered sentencing, which is one more innovative solution to reducing DUI. Staggering sentencing can include a variety of responses to reduce DUI such as:

• A Staggered Incarceration Period
• Remote Electronic Alcohol Monitoring (mentioned above)
• Active participation by the offender
• Clearly Articulated Consequences for Specific Violations

One thing is clear, with officials, judges, legislatures and community groups working on the problem of DUI and stopping repeat offenders better solutions are sure to develop.

What if you are the Victim of DUI?

If you have been the victim of a DUI, there is help for you. DUI attorneys understand the pain and suffering you are experiencing and are ready to dedicate themselves to ensuring you get the help you need.

DUI and DWI are a serious problem, and there are legal ramifications for individuals who continue to make irresponsible decisions about drinking and driving. Contact a DWI lawyer today for more information about what can be done for your DUI case. Many DWI attorneys offer free consultations to claimants to review their DUI claim.

Major Reasons to Hire a DWI Lawyer

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) can lead to severe penalties. A DWI is similar in scope to a DUI, with some states differentiating themselves by using different terms. For our purposes, let’s consider them very close legally: you are drinking alcohol or abusing drugs and driving.

One question we hear quite often is when you need to hire a DWI lawyer.

They’re a variety of scenarios. You have no job, and therefore no income. You are guilty of the charges. A court appointed lawyer costs nothing. You are not guilty, but want to defend yourself. If any of these sound wrong, well, it’s because they’re all entirely the wrong reasons. There is no clear reason not to hire a DWI lawyer unless you are a DWI lawyer yourself. Why?

If you have no job, you likely cannot afford to pay the excessive fines, which can  be in the thousands. If you start working again, you won’t be able to drive. If you have no income coming in, sometimes you seem to have no options. We all have access to money, even after filing bankruptcy or losing a job. It’s time to put value on how much you want to stay out of jail, want to keep your drivers license, and want to avoid thousands in fines.

If you are guilty of the charges, it’s easy to say you need no professional DWI lawyer. This is wrong in many respects. Say, for example, you were in fact drinking, but the breathalyzer used tested you as over the limit when actually you were very close to under the limit. Or say that the officer pulled you over for no legal reason – only because he suspected by the look of your car you were a criminal, or because you are a minority, or a woman, or a variety of other reasons. In still other cases, the officer acted incorrectly by never giving you a Miranda, if not abusing your legal rights. These examples can lead to dropped charges, even if you are guilty of drinking and driving, and potentially could lead to some damages. But you need a DWI lawyer.

You may think a court appointed lawyer can handle your case. Using the above example on actually believing your guilty, you decide because of this that you should forgo hiring a lawyer. A court appointed lawyer is almost as bad as defending yourself; they rarely have the time or inclination to properly defend you. A professional DWI lawyer can find holes in the prosecution’s case given time; rarely can a court appointed lawyer with dozens of other cases spend a significant amount of time helping you.

Finally, you can defend yourself. You know your innocence, or know the officer acted wrong, and maybe you know some of the process in handling a court case. Rarely does this work out. Unless you’re a DWI lawyer, you need professional legal representation. You’ll need expert witnesses, to question what happened, to know the local laws, and to know how exactly to handle the court process with the judge and prosecution. There is a reason passing the Bar is very tough; it takes years experience.

If you’re still unsure whether a DWI lawyer can help you, consider that it might actually save you time, money, and a lot of headaches. It’s worth paying the extra money in order to get a professional defense.

Why Defending a DUI and Winning is Possible

Defending DUI charges can be effective in cases where the officer acted incorrectly, if you were not driving, and especially if the validity of the DUI tests (such as the breathalyzer) can be questioned. The problem is that many believe once they are charged, they are going to be found guilty in a court of law. You have a right to defend yourself in a court of law, with the help of an attorney, as said in the Miranda warning given to you upon arrest.

Why Defense?
Why not just take the charges and be done? Well, it can be easy to say you are guilty, that you deserve punishment. However, you still have rights, and you still have a chance in defense. At the least, the prosecution can offer you a plea bargain. You just don’t know what will happen until you DUI lawyer prepares a defense.

The Officer Arrest
You can challenge your arrest. Say you are an African American woman, you’re pulled over for no clear reason, given a breathalyzer, and arrested. You may have been profiled; it does not always happen that way, but it can. If an officer pulls you over for no clear reason, even if you are not a minority, and you are arrested, you can challenge the arrest. The strategy here would be to say the officer should have never pulled over and arrested you in the first place, throwing out any evidence after. This does happen.

Another point to consider is your Miranda warning, where you’re supposed to be told of your rights to an attorney and beyond. If this is not given, it is a breach of your rights and can be made into an effective defense, even if you were over the limit.

By law, an officer has to be able to prove why he pulled you over, that he or she followed protocol in investigating you, and upon arrest you were told of your rights. If not, you can fight this in a court of law.

The Test Validity
The breathalyzer is not a perfect device, just like no officer is perfect. Actually, the breathalyzer can  be used incorrectly by the officer who pulled you over. They have to  be capable of using it. The most damning test is the blood test, the most accurate. But if you are very close to the legal limit, this can put a question on the prosecution’s case.

Plea Bargains

Speaking of the prosecution, it’s important to remember you may be found guilty. Unfortunately, you may be over the limit for alcohol, used prescription drugs which effected your ability to drive, used illegal drugs, or were a minor in possession. However, this case is not over. Quite often the prosecution will offer a plea bargain. In order to lessen charges, you need a professional DUI lawyer.

Getting Help From a Lawyer
You have the option of defending yourself, having a court appointed lawyer, or hiring a professional lawyer. You need to hire your own DUI lawyer 99% of the time. A lawyer should be fair on prices, experienced in court with DUI cases, and be able to spend enough time helping your case.

What Are The Fines for DUI Charges?

DUI charges may seem to be penalized mainly via license suspensions and jail time, but don’t overlook the money you’ll have to pay to the courts in fines. These fines vary from $500 to $2,000 depending on the nature of the charges. Many states handle fines very differently however. Washington state, for example, has fines for a first DUI starting at over $800. That’s for only one DUI charge.

In other cases, you might pay $5,000 for your first DUI charge. Also, you can expect the penalties to increase with each. If you’re underage and driving … if you have multiple DUI charges … or if you hurt or killed someone while driving, the penalties can be extreme. You will also be forced to pay for other things, such as classes, hiring an attorney to help, and many other costs which add up.

Why fines?

Every day there are numerous DUI arrests. Every day, someone dies related to alcohol. Every day, someone is hit by another person drinking and driving. Recent studies have pointed out how over 10,000 people die as related to DUI cases every year. The number is happily in decline, but it’s one reasons DUI fines are high.

The First DUI Penalty

First DUI charges typically cost about $2,000. This is for a basic arrest where no one was hurt. If you hurt someone or had a very high blood alcohol content (BAC), you can expect larger fines. In this case, you’ll need to hire a lawyer. There simply is no way around it. And lawyers cost money.

How Lawyers Charge You
There are many experienced DUI lawyers who can help you lower fines, jail time, and license suspensions. That comes for a price. Many lawyers will charge you high fees just to take on your case. At the end, if you choose a bad lawyer or pick the first one you find, it can cost you thousands more. And an experienced DUI attorney gives you a chance to win the case–and get no fines, jail time, or suspension.

Aggravated DUI
An aggravated DUI is a very serious charge. It was mentioned if you hurt someone or have a very, very high BAC, the fines are more severe. In these cases, some states call it an aggravated DUI. You can also get an aggravated DUI for multiple drinking and driving offenses. If you have a BAC of .13, for  example, which is very high, you may be charged with it. If you hurt someone, or have multiple DUI violations, you can expect an aggravated DUI.

Other Penalties for DUI
Beyond just paying thousands of dollars in court fees and the time involved in taking classes, you have the potential for jail time and license suspension. For a first DUI violation, your license is typically suspended for a few months to a year. The more violations you get, the longer period you have with no license. If you hurt someone, or have multiple DUI violations, you can expect extended jail time, sometimes several years.

The Answer for DUI Charges
The best thing you can do is hire the right attorney from the start. You may have more options than you think. An experienced DUI attorney saves you time, money, and can lessen the charges or perhaps win the case for you.

Why is DWI Dangerous?

Driving while intoxicated (DWI), a term used in many states as interchangeable with DUI and in some cases a different charge, is one of the biggest causes of deaths in the United States. Every year, thousands of people are killed in DWI cases. And not just drivers running off the road; you also hit other cars, pedestrians, and if you’re driving with family or friends in the car, they’re in danger too.

The main guideline for DWI arrests is the BAC, blood alcohol content, which when 0.08% or more is considered a DWI and illegal. In some cases, you can only have a drink or two, get intoxicated, and be arrested for a DWI even if you are not over the limit. Also, under age drinking and driving, minors under 21 getting behind the wheel, is treated as a DWI with just about any BAC, from .01 to .02%.

What does drinking and driving do to you?

Just one glass of wine combined with driving a car can be a dangerous proposition. Alcohol hits people in different ways; there are few safe ways to drive after drinking.  Drinking leads to poor vision and hearing, makes you clumsy, and makes you lose sound judgment and self-control.

Even if you drink all the time and have a high tolerance, it really doesn’t matter in the eyes of the law. Problem drinkers can be fine one second and dangerous the next. All that matters is any drinking of alcohol combined with driving can be  lethal, and at points illegal.

How do you know when you can’t drive?
Getting a DWI is about making mistakes from the outset: deciding you can get behind the wheel. Your BAC involves how fast the alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream and how fast it leaves. These can vary from person to person. There is no definite time limit for when you can and can’t drive. As it’s different for different people, drinking should be followed by a cab ride home or a designated driver.

What happens if you’re pulled over by an officer?
Typically, you can expect to be tested for alcohol upon being pulled over. There must be a clear reason for the officer to pull you over. The most common DWI test is the breathalyzer, as it’s one of the most reliable. Other times you might get a blood test. Urine tests are rarely used because alcohol gets in your blood, not your urine.

If you’re pulled over and fail the standard tests for alcohol, you will be arrested. At that point, you need to know your options.

How do you defend a DWI charge?
You need a DWI lawyer to handle the case. This is not the end of the world in most cases if it’s your first time, but you still face potential license suspension, fines, and possible jail time. If this is your second or third DWI, or if you’re driving with a suspended license, you can expect very stiff penalties from all states.

A professional DWI lawyer can help you from day 1 by explaining your rights, how you might plea, and what to fight. If you’ve been charged with a DWI, don’t try to defend yourself; hire an experienced lawyer.