1. WHEN I WAS ARRESTED FOR DWI, THEY TOOK MY DRIVER’S LICENSE AWAY. IS MY LICENSE SUSPENDED? CAN I DRIVE?
There are two circumstances in which the police will take your driver’s license from you after being arrested for DWI in Texas. First, if you are asked to submit a breath, blood, or urine sample and you refuse. This can lead to a 180-day suspension of your license. Second, if you agreed to blow into the Intoxilyzer and your result was .08 or higher. This can lead to a 90-day suspension. However, these suspensions do not become effective immediately.
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If your license was taken from you, the police should have given you a piece of paper titled “Notice of Suspension/Temporary Driver’s Permit.” This document, also known as a “DIC-25,” allows you to continue to drive pending suspension of your license. The DIC-25 is good for 40 days, and then your license is automatically suspended. If you request a hearing on the suspension of your driver’s license, however, the DIC-25 remains in effect until the hearing has been conducted and the administrative judge suspends your license. This process can take several months. If your license is suspended, you need to work with your attorney to obtain an “occupational license,” which will allow you to drive to work and/or to school while your license is suspended.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You have only 15 days from the date you are arrested for DWI to request an Administrative License Hearing from the Department of Public Safety. It is best to retain a good DWI lawyer within the 15-day period so that your attorney can make sure that the proper request is made and registered by DPS.
There is one other circumstance in which your license can be suspended as part of a DWI arrest. If you consent to give blood, the sample of your blood will be sent for analysis to the Department of Public Safety Crime Lab. The process of testing your blood for blood alcohol content usually takes about 4-6 weeks. If the result is .08 or higher, DPS will send you a notice in the mail advising you that your license is going to be suspended. Again, this does not take effect immediately. Also, the notice from DPS will advise you that you have 20 days from the date of the notice (not the date you receive the notice) to request a hearing on the suspension of your license. If you consented to giving blood in a DWI case, keep an eye out for the suspension notice to arrive in your mail and let your attorney know as soon as you receive it so that a prompt request for a hearing can be made. The notice will be sent to the address on your driver’s license, so you need to make sure that the address on your license is up to date.
2. IF I AM CONVICTED OF DWI OR PLACED ON PROBATION FOR DWI, CAN I GET IT OFF MY RECORD?
No. If you are convicted of DWI, even if you are placed on probation, a DWI stays on your record for good. You are not eligible for an expunction nor are you eligible for an order of non-disclosure (a public sealing of your record.)
3. CAN I GET A DEFERRED ADJUDICATION FOR A DWI?
No. The Texas Penal Code allows for a deferred adjudication in just about every other criminal offense in Texas, but not for DWI. A deferred adjudication is a form of probation in which you are not convicted if you successfully complete the deferred adjudication period of probation. Then, in most cases, you can apply for an order of non-disclosure. In Texas, DWI is just different. This is a very short-sighted legislative policy by our Legislature. It does not take into account that most DWI’s are committed by people who will never drink and drive again. The Legislature should remedy this flaw in our justice system by allowing deferred adjudications in first offense DWI cases. People make mistakes and learn from them. Our law should allow those that do to erase a DWI arrest from their record after a certain period of time or at least allow a non-disclosure. Write your legislator today.
4. DO I NEED A LAWYER IF I GET A DWI?
Absolutely. A good DWI attorney will completely review your case (audio and video recordings, offense reports, field sobriety testing, and blood records) and will be able to best evaluate your chances going forward. All cases are different, but a good DWI lawyer can make sure that you have the best chance to have your case resolved favorably. There are numerous things that can and do go wrong in the course of a DWI investigation and prosecution and you will need a good lawyer to develop the proper defense. It is also vitally important to hire a lawyer who is experienced in the courtroom and who will fight for you at trial. Do not try this on your own.