We don't often think about police officers, firefighters, and other first responders being pulled over by the police, but it happens. A drink or two with dinner, a night out at the bar watching basketball, a weekend at the lake, or even just date night can result in the police pulling over another law enforcement officer or first responder for a suspected DWI.
If you're a first responder facing a DWI, it's important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty, no matter how many people you may have arrested yourself. A DWI arrest does not mean a court will convict you. But if you're a first responder, it's important to be aware of the possible consequences of a DWI conviction, not just potential prison time or fines. A DWI conviction could affect your career. That's why you must retain an expert in DWI defense as soon as possible. A skilled attorney like Doug Murphy by your side can guide your case to the best possible resolution.
What Is a DWI?
Texas law defines driving while intoxicated broadly, and you don't have to have a blood alcohol content above the legal limit to be considered “intoxicated.” Texas law defines “intoxication” as:
“[N]ot having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.”
Tex. Penal Code § 49.01. So, you can face an arrest for a DWI if you:
- Have a BAC over the legal limit of .08% or .04% for those with a commercial driver's license
- If you no longer have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties
Penalties for Texas DWIs
The penalties for a DWI in Texas vary depending on the facts of your case, whether you have any previous convictions, and any aggravating circumstances such as a serious injury or death. However, your first DWI in Texas can still carry serious penalties.
- First DWI: Under Texas law, a first DWI is a Class B misdemeanor. A conviction carries penalties of up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Additionally, you could face a license suspension of up to one year and another mandatory administrative fine of $3,000 or $6,000 if your BAC is over .15%.
- Second DWI: Under Texas law, a second DWI is a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction can result in up to one year in jail and $4,000 in fines. You will also face a license suspension of up to two years and a mandatory administrative fine of $4,500 for a second DWI within 36 months, or $6,000 if your BAC is over .15%.
- Third or Subsequent DWI: Under Texas law, a third DWI is a third-degree felony, and a fourth DWI may be a second-degree felony. Penalties for a felony conviction can include up to ten or twenty years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Additionally, you'll face a two-year license suspension and a mandatory administrative fine of $3,000 for a first offense in 36 months and $6,000 if your BAC is over .15%. For a second DWI within 36 consecutive months, you'll face a $4,500 administrative fine.
You could face additional penalties and jail time if you're involved in a DWI involving an accident, injury, or death. If you're arrested for a DWI with a child passenger under 15 in the car, it is a state jail felony.
Career Repercussions From Texas DWI Convictions
Unfortunately, a mistake resulting in a DWI conviction can also affect the careers of police officers, firefighters, and other first responders. If you're arrested or cited in Texas, you must report it to your superiors, and many police or public safety departments will immediately open an internal investigation. For police officers, an arrest for a felony can result in an automatic license suspension under Texas Commission on Law Enforcement rules, even before a conviction. If convicted, you could lose your ability to work as a police officer for 30 years.
Even for misdemeanor convictions, you could face career-ending suspensions. Under the rules:
- The license of a person convicted or placed on community supervision for any offense above the grade of Class C misdemeanor may be suspended for 10 years.
- A suspension based on a Class A misdemeanor shall be at least 120 days.
- A suspension based on a Class B misdemeanor shall be at least 60 days.
Even for a first DWI conviction, a Class B misdemeanor, you could face suspension at work for at least 60 days. That's why you must contact an expert in DWI defense as soon as possible.
For firefighters, a DWI arrest can also result in a suspension before a conviction. In Houston, you can face an immediate administrative suspension and an internal investigation. An investigation can also result in a suspension or termination.
You Need a Board Certified Expert in Texas DWI and Drug Defense
Attorney Doug Murphy is a board-certified expert in Texas DWI defense and criminal defense law. Doug is one of only two attorneys in the state holding Texas Board Certifications in both DWI Defense and Criminal Defense Law. Doug's board certifications, wide-ranging experience in defense, and technical knowledge in DWI defense, make him an expert in this specialty area of the law.
Doug is also highly regarded by his peers in the Houston legal community. U.S. News and World Report recently named Doug Murphy Lawyer of the year by Best Lawyers in America for DWI defense in Houston for 2023. This prestigious recognition comes from the nominations and votes of fellow attorneys in Houston. The skilled attorneys at the Doug Murphy Law Firm have been defending the people of Houston for years, and they can help you too. Contact them online or at 713-229-8333 to schedule your consultation.