In Texas, if you've been arrested for a DWI while driving with a restricted license, you already know that the legal system in Texas is very complicated and that your best defense is to have help from a DWI specialist when it comes to navigating the waters and fighting your case. Texas has very strict DWI laws, and if your restriction was from a first DWI, a potential second DWI conviction makes you ineligible to have your record sealed in Texas. When you've been charged with a DWI offense, while driving with a restricted license, you want a Board Certified DWI Defense lawyer on your side, someone with expertise and dedication.
Doug Murphy represents DWI clients throughout Houston and the greater metropolitan area. He works with individuals charged with DWI crimes in surrounding counties, including: Colorado, Harris, Austin, Galveston, Fayette, Fort Bend, Madison, Liberty, Walker, and Washington. His 20 years of experience and proven dedication to trial litigation speak to his desire to support his clients in their right to innocence unless proven guilty.
DWI charges are significant enough in Texas the first time. However, if you already have a restricted license, chances are this is not your first rodeo, and you understand that public safety has a variety of enforcement actions when it comes to licenses. Driving with a restricted license and receiving a DWI is a serious charge for several reasons, and you don't want to traverse the waters by yourself. Let's first review a restricted license.
WHAT IS A RESTRICTED LICENSE?
A restricted license is the ability to use your suspended license under very specific circumstances.
When law enforcement officials pull you over for an alleged DWI offense, they may ask you to either take a breathalyzer or to take a field sobriety test. Texas is an “implied consent” state, which means that by having a driver's license, you agree to submit to a breath, blood, or urine blood alcohol test. If you choose to refuse this test, your license is automatically suspended, however, you have the right to fight that suspension, and a skilled DWI defense lawyer will stand by your side and file for an ALR hearing. If you don't file for an ALR hearing, what happens next? If you have no prior DWI cases, your suspension could be 180 days; if you have a DWI arrest within the past 10 years, your suspension could be for two years.
If you take the test and do not pass, you get an administrative license revocation (ALR). The suspension lengths for an ALR are less than the refusal suspension periods: 90 days could be with no prior DWIs, could be one year with a DWI arrest within the past 10 years. If you receive a DWI conviction, your license is automatically will be suspended from anywhere between 90 days to one year for a first offense, and six months to two years for anything beyond a first offense. The seriousness of these consequences is where a Board Certified DWI Defense attorney comes in. There is a 15-day window to file the request for an ALR hearing and it is one of the most important things you should do if you have failed or refused a breath or blood test.
An ALR hearing is a formal legal civil proceeding that does not have any direct bearing on the potential criminal DWI charges you may have, however, it can be incredibly beneficial to your DWI case from an indirect standpoint. DPS sole purpose of this ALR hearing is to determine whether or not your license will be suspended. Although you could attempt to represent yourself, there are many complications and it is already an emotional time, due to the high stakes. A DWI specialist will be knowledgeable in both the science and the civil components that complicate DWI cases, and during an ALR hearing, your attorney will force the prosecutor (representing the state) to carry the burden of proof.
Professional excellent representation during an ALR hearing can be the difference between losing your license and keeping it. A successful DWI specialist will have already fought and won thousands of cases before yours. Additionally, information that comes forward through cross examination under oath during the ALR hearing can be leveraged and used during the criminal proceedings for impeachment. Retaining a lawyer who specializes in both DWI Defense and Criminal Defense strengthens your chances of keeping your license and beating your charges.
WHAT ARE THE TWO TYPES OF RESTRICTED LICENSES?
There are two common types of restricted licenses in Texas. The first, an occupational license, generally has parameters around when you may or may not drive. Occasionally, you'll hear an occupational license referred to as a “hardship license.” The second, a restricted interlock license, occurs when you have to use an ignition interlock device that has a breathalyzer attached to it to start your car. Let's go into them a bit more.
An occupational license usually comes with specific information from the issuing judge about when and how you may use your license. When a judge issues an order, the occupational license goes into effect immediately, unless you've already had a DWI defense within the past five years. In that case, you might need to wait between six months to a year from the date your license was first suspended. The order might list hours and days when you may drive, specific reasons you may drive, or routes you may use. There are stringent restrictions in the Texas transportation code that state you have to carry a certified copy of the order with you, you must participate in alcohol dependence counseling, and potentially you must use an ignition interlock device. With a first offense, the ignition interlock device is not mandated by state law, however, subsequent offenses do require it. A DWI specialist can help you navigate through the complexities of requesting an occupational license and understanding the restrictions.
It's important to know that it's not possible to get an occupational license to operate a commercial vehicle.
An interlock license is one where you must install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle; the IID will prevent the car from driving if it detects a blood alcohol content above a set level. Ignition interlock devices are expensive. There is an installation fee normally associated with it, monthly fees for maintenance and leasing of the IID, and a removal fee at the end of your use of it. IID's cannot be disconnected from your vehicle—attempting to do so may prevent the car from running or it could cause damage to the vehicle or the IID. There is not a way to identify who is breathing into the device, however. If you're caught tampering with your IID, there is a chance that your license will be revoked, and you may face additional criminal charges.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I ALREADY HAVE A DWI?
If you're already driving with a restricted license of any type, chances are high that you have past DWI offenses, whether it involved drugs or alcohol. You may have attempted to navigate that initial offense alone. When you receive another DWI while driving with a restricted license, you are looking at several possible effects. A first-time DWI offense classifies as a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. If this is a subsequent offense, then it's important to understand how the charges will change. Additionally, there's the added layer of being in violation of your occupational license requirements. These are complex and complicated to navigate, which is why it's helpful to have a DWI specialist at your side, helping you understand the best course of action, and fighting on your behalf.
RAMIFICATIONS OF SUBSEQUENT DWIS
The first time you receive a DWI charge, the penalties are the lightest they will ever be. Unfortunately, there are several factors at play. One is the repeat offender laws, designed to discourage habitual offenders. Although an initial DWI penalty can be up to a maximum $2000 fine for a class B misdemeanor, and 180 days in jail, that penalty doubles for a second offense. The charge changes to a class A misdemeanor. The fine becomes $4000, the jail time is a year, and you may lose your license for up to two years. Additionally, if you didn't have an IID on your vehicle already, you will be required to install one at this time.
VIOLATION OF THE OCCUPATIONAL LICENSE REQUIREMENTS
Texas law states very clearly the possible consequences of violating your occupational license. You face criminal charges and your license could be revoked if you do not have a DWI Specialist to fight your case. The transportation code can be challenging to understand on your own and the paths to fighting may seem insurmountable. They don't have to though, as a DWI specialist will have the necessary tools and knowledge to explain implications to you and to walk you through the process of defending your innocence until proven guilty.
The code states: “A person who holds an occupational license commits an offense if the person: (1) operates a motor vehicle in violation of a restriction imposed on the license; or (2) fails to have in the person's possession a certified copy of the court order as required under Section 521.250. (b) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor. (c) On conviction of an offense under this section, the occupational license and the order granting that license are revoked.”
A DWI with a restricted license is much more serious than a DWI with a regular license. You add the possibility of an additional criminal offense to the charges when you already have a restricted license, and with such complications, you want to ensure that you have the best defense on your side with a DWI specialist who understands the complexity.
POSSIBLE LICENSE REVOCATION
If your license is revoked, it is much harder to drive again in the future.
You have to apply for a brand new license, and complete the required courses, as if you had never had a license in the first place. You'll have to pay the fees for the new license, as well as take the driving test with the state official in your car next to you. If your revocation was for a set period, you are eligible to apply for a license once that penalty time passes. If, however, the revocation was due to Texas Transportation Code 521.294, for your inability to safely operate a motor vehicle, the Medical Advisory Board, paneled by doctors, will have to clear you to drive. They will review your medical records, and advise the Department of State Health Services as to whether or not you qualify for a license. Although you don't have a right to a hearing, a DWI specialist would know to request one on your behalf.
HIRE THE BEST BOARD CERTIFIED DWI AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
If the police arrest you for a DWI and you already have a restricted license, you want to have the best attorney on your side. You want someone who understands the complexity of the criminal charges. DWI convictions in Texas can ruin your career, your finances, and have far-reaching collateral consequences. Having a lawyer with proven experience and skills gives you the best legal representation possible, and a DWI specialist fits the bill. Board Certified DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney Doug Murphy has these and more. Contact us today to get started.