Can a DWI Be Dismissed in Texas?
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a dangerous action. These substances can impair our judgement and reaction times, making it difficult to drive safely and respond to unexpected events on the road. As a result, Texas treats driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges as serious crimes, often resulting in jail time and high fines. However, not all DWI charges are valid – and there are certain circumstances under which the state could dismiss a DWI charge.
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Potential Penalties for DWI in Texas
Since DWIs can often result in serious injury, property damage, and death, the state of Texas can assign very high penalties if you receive a DWI conviction. Penalties vary based on multiple factors, such as the number of previous DWI offenses, the level of damage that the DWI caused, and, in some cases, the level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) you have at the time of the arrest.
- A first offense DWI is punishable by fines up to $2,000 and between six to 180 days in jail. You may also face administrative penalties such as license suspension and a driver’s license retention fee of $2,000 per year for 3 years.
- A second offense DWI is punishable by fines up to $4,000 and between 1 month to 1 year in jail. Administrative penalties include license suspension and driver’s license retention fees.
- Third offense DWIs can receive up to a $10,000 fine and between 2 to 10 years in state prison. Driver’s license retention fees and a lengthier license suspension may apply as well.
In addition to the above penalties, you may also face mandatory community service or admission into an education or treatment program, the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, and higher insurance premiums. If you refuse to submit to a sobriety test at the time of your arrest, the state may impose additional penalties on top of the pending DWI conviction.
Reasons a DWI Case May Be Dismissed
While Texas takes DWIs very seriously, not all DWI stops are valid. There are a few reasons why a judge may dismiss your case, depending on the circumstances of your arrest,
- A DWI stop has to be legal and have probable cause. Police can only stop you if they believe you are committing a crime or are a threat to public safety. They can only stop you if you violate a traffic law, approach a DWI checkpoint, commit an equipment violation, or engage in dangerous driving behaviors. They may also stop you if your vehicle matches the description of a stolen car or one used in a crime. If police stop you for an unrelated, random, or illegal reason, the judge could dismiss your DWI.
- Related to the above point about the legality of DWI stops, the arresting officer must have probable cause to request a breathalyzer test. The officer must have a reason that you are drinking to administer a breath test, and a random, unprovoked test could be grounds for a DWI dismissal.
- Police officers are supposed to advise you of your rights during an arrest. If they fail to do so, you may be able to have your case dismissed on the grounds that the officers failed to inform you of your constitutional rights.
How Long Does a DWI Case Take in Texas?
After a DWI arrest, you will enter the Texas criminal justice system. DWI cases often have to undergo a number of steps before the court reaches a verdict or you and your attorney reach an agreement with the prosecution. This may include the arraignment where you will enter your plea, pre-trial hearings and meetings, negotiations, and, of course, the trial.
In the state of Texas, it can take between three to six months for a DWI case to reach a conclusion if you decide not to enter the trial process via a guilty plea or plea agreement. If you do enter the courtroom, it can take between 4 months to a year for the case to conclude.
If you are facing DWI charges in Texas, there may be a way to dismiss the charges or reduce the potential penalties you may face. However, you will need to speak to a Texas DWI defense attorney with experience working within your local criminal justice system. As soon as possible following your arrest, contact your lawyer to discuss your legal options and potential pathways to dismissal.