In Texas, you should not take a DWI charge lightly. Even if it is your first offense, a criminal charge can lead to expensive penalties that may cost you money and time behind bars in the short term and privileges and opportunities down the line.
First-time DWI penalties
Unlike some traffic stops, individuals suspected to be operating their car under the influence of drugs or alcohol usually don’t receive a warning. Rather, when a police officer finds evidence of intoxication, penalties of a first-time offense in Texas include:
- Paying an initial fine of up to $2,000
- Spending anywhere from three to 180 days in jail
- Facing license suspension for up to a year
- Retaining license through a $1,000 to $2,000 fee for three years after suspension lifts
Even if you receive the bare minimum when it comes to the fines or a jail sentence, there are several ways a criminal charge can follow you in both your professional and personal life.
Depending on the nature of your job, your employer might not believe you are responsible enough to keep your position after your charge. For example, your employer might not welcome you with open arms if you drive for a living. And if a judge’s order puts you behind bars for an extended period, then your employer might hire someone to replace. Seeking future employment may also be difficult, as a background check would reveal your history.
Personal life ramifications
Your family or spouse may feel personally affected by your mistake, as they drive you places while you are without a license. The financial impact of a conviction also can affect the family finances.
A DWI charge comes with many burdens, but an experienced criminal law attorney can help represent your best interests and fight the short- and long-term impacts.