Driving while impaired (DWI) in Texas can come with severe consequences: A DWI conviction can mean prison time, steep fines, and suspension of your driver's license. But people are much less aware that if you have a professional license, that, too, is at risk with a DWI.
What Is a DWI in Texas?
First, it is important to understand what constitutes a DWI in Texas. In Texas, a person is legally intoxicated and may be charged with DWI if they are not able to function normally. Impairment can be tested with field sobriety tests, but it is presumed to be the case if someone has blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more.
Further, DWI's are not limited to alcohol: A person may also be considered intoxicated if they are impaired due to alcohol or other drugs.
How Can a DWI Affect Your Professional Licensing?
Many jobs—from dentistry to teaching—require professional licensing before a person can practice or hold such a position. In doing so, the governing boards that establish those licensing requirements—including under what conditions someone may be stripped of their license.
In some cases, a DWI conviction can warrant a license suspension or revocation.
Each professional licensing board can make its own decision and issue its own punishment based on its assessment of the offense. There is no uniform rule that all boards follow. For example:
· The Texas Medical Board can suspend or revoke a doctor's license to practice medicine for drunkenness or excessive alcohol or drug use. One does not even need a DWI conviction to meet this standard, and, in fact, even an arrest (regardless of a later exoneration) must still be reported to the board.
· The Texas Board of Nursing can suspend or revoke a nurse's license if the nurse is convicted of a crime that shows they are unfit or incompetent to practice; specifically, the Board determines if a nurse has violated the Nursing Practice Act. The board has a lot of discretion to determine what it means to be “unfit” or “incompetent,” and a DWI conviction can fall into that category.
· The Texas Real Estate Commission can suspend or revoke a realtor's license for crimes that directly relate to real estate. While that normally would not seem to include a DWI, the commission may use a DWI for a revocation, depending on factors including the gravity of the offense, the ability to use a real estate license in furtherance of additional crimes, and the relationship of the crime on a real estate practice.
· The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which handles Series 7 credentialing of stockbrokers on behalf of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has broad discretion when it comes to licensing. For a misdemeanor charge, it may depend on other factors; for a felony DWI, a license is likely to lead to at least a temporary disqualification.
Doug Murphy Can Help You
You may have been told that you don't need an attorney; instead, they say you should plead guilty or no contest for a DWI. However, they likely do not understand this quick plea could cost you your entire career.
Before you make any plea, contact Doug Murphy for a free consultation. A Board Certified DWI Specialist , Doug has helped thousands of clients in the Houston area and throughout Texas avoid DWI's career-ending impact, and he can help you, too.