How to Get a Driver's License Back after a DWI in Texas
Texas is amongst the top 10 US states for drunk driving-related accidents and fatalities. It is not a list anybody wants to be on. Because of the alarming statistics, Texas law is tough on DWI charges and license suspensions.
Losing a driver's license for even a short time can be somewhat debilitating for many people. It becomes harder to work, to move around, and to get to where you need to go in life. In short, not a license suspension is a suspension of freedom.
Drunk driving is a crime, and punishment is necessary, but not forever. If somebody makes a mistake and pays their dues, an attorney can help them get their driving privileges reinstated. Of course, there are conditions imposed by the Texas court that must be met. In some exceptional cases where there is no possibility of reinstating the license.
However, it is possible in most cases, especially with the assistance of a professional and experienced defense attorney. Having one by your side also gives you better chances of handling more complicated cases such as beating a DUI less safe charge. Here is a rundown of what is involved with DWI license suspension and how to get your license back.
License Suspension Laws in Texas
Several drunk driving charges usually involve a driver's license suspension period. Loss of driving privileges is one of the main punishments handed out in Texas for DWIs. A suspended license means that the offender cannot legally operate a vehicle for the entire period.
If the person is caught driving with a suspended license, it can mean further criminal charges and an increased conviction. The exact period and conditions of the driver's license suspension depends on the nature of the offense.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
There are two levels of misdemeanor DWIs:
Class B (first-time offense with a blood alcohol level between 0.08 and 0.14): The license suspension, in this case, can be anywhere between 90 days and one year.
Class A (first-time offense with blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher, or a second-time DWI): A driver's license can last from 180 days to two years.
If a person commits repeat DWI offenses after time spent in a penitentiary, the normal maximum suspension is still two years, but they could face significantly longer in jail.
DWI with a Child Passenger
Any DWI with a child in the car counts as a State Jail Felony with at least six months of incarceration. The offender cannot have their license reinstated for a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of two years.
If the driver is also found guilty of child endangerment, the loss of their driver's license could be extended.
Intoxication Assault / Intoxication Manslaughter
Intoxicated assault refers to a DWI that causes significant bodily harm to another party. It is a third-degree felony that carries heavy fines and up to a decade in jail. If a victim dies because of a drunk driver, the charge increases to intoxicated manslaughter- a second-degree felony with the same possible punishments.
In both cases, the driver's license is revoked for two years- which is the least of their concerns considering the possibility of significant jail time. If they are fortunate enough to have an excellent lawyer on their team from the very beginning and avoid maximum sentencing, they may face extended revocation.
Anybody facing either of these charges must contact an expert in Texas DWI laws as soon as possible to pursue the best possible outcome from the very beginning.
Administrative License Suspension
Administrative license revocation is a complicated Texas law that requires legal assistance. In short, if a person is suspected of a DWI but refuses to take a blood or breath test, the Texas Department of Public Safety reserves the right to suspend their driver's license.
When that happens, a notice of suspension is sent to the alleged offender. It acts as a temporary permit until a decision is made about whether or not to challenge the suspension. The permit only lasts a short while, but the suspended license can last from 90 days to two years, depending on the circumstances.
To get your license back, in this case, you must attend an ALR hearing, appealing against the decision. During this hearing, the defendant's legal team must show that the police officer did not have reason to demand a blood or breath test. Refusing testing is within a person's rights if they did not:
Cause a crash
Have a prior DWI conviction or any other criminal conviction
Have a child age 15 or under in the car at the time
If the Department of Public Safety proves there was reason for the arresting officer to require a test, the license is revoked. However, if they do not, the license is reinstated after the hearing.
How to Get License Back after DWI in Texas
Getting a Texas driver's license reinstated after a DWI license suspension takes several steps. Before anything else, the best thing to do is hire Fort Worth TX DUI attorneys to guide through the process and help make sure the whole process is properly completed.
Before getting a license reinstated, the following criteria must be met.
Wait for the Allotted Timeframe
After a DWI arrest, the judge can determine the length of time to have the license suspended. Unfortunately, unless there is cause for an appeal, the offender must be patient and do their time.
Shortening a DWI license suspension is possible in Texas, as long as it does not go below the minimum sentence. First, a DWI lawyer must request it from the judge, then it is entirely at the court's discretion. If the judge agrees to reinstate it early, they must inform the Texas Department of Public Safety before it goes ahead.
Other than pursuing an early reinstatement, waiting is the only option.
Pay the Fines
On top of the fines imposed for the conviction- and the yearly surcharge applied in Texas- there is also a reinstatement fee. The reinstatement fees must be paid by the driver before the application for reinstatement continues.
In Texas, the fees are as follows:
$125 for an administrative license suspension
$100 for a DWI or other traffic offense
After paying all necessary fees, the person can submit for a driver's license reinstatement.
Obtain Completion Document (If Applicable)
Depending on the nature of the offense and conviction, there may be one or more court-appointed courses the offender must complete before their driver's license gets reinstated.
Some of the possible courses may include:
Refreshed driving training
Drug or alcohol treatment program
Traffic safety course
Proof of completion- usually a certificate or signed confirmation from a responsible party- should be submitted to the court and the Department of Public Safety. A lawyer can assist with securing the relevant documentation and ensuring it is submitted compliantly and in good time.
Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate (SR-22)
Before a Texas driver's license is reinstated, they must provide proof of high-risk insurance cover. Increased insurance premiums are one of the difficulties that follow drivers after a DWI arrest. However, it is mandatory if they want the privilege returned.
Once back on the road, they must maintain this proof for two years by regularly submitting documentation to the DPS.
Other Options after a Driver's License Suspension
There are certain cases where a person may be granted a temporary solution while the full license is invalid. These are exceptional circumstances. An experienced attorney is the best person to pursue these options.
If a driver can prove that the loss of a license renders them incapable of certain things, there is a chance to apply for an occupational license. Possible circumstances include supporting a family, completing essential studies, or caring for a dependent. It is a highly restricted license only for essential purposes.
The activity is tracked and monitored closely, and any breaches of the agreement result in harsher penalties. However, if used responsibly, it can be an advantage for someone who would otherwise be in an extremely difficult situation.
Temporary Driving Permit
A TDP is only applicable in the case of an administrative suspension. It acts as a provisional license until the ALR hearing.
Ignition Interlock Device
Luckily, in Texas, some drivers can get their license back much faster by agreeing to install an ignition interlock device. It is essentially a breath test that connects to the car, which cannot start until it sees a negative reading. Fail the test, and the vehicle does not start. Measures are put in place to ensure the device is not tampered with. Again, any abuse of the machine and the privilege is revoked and punishment reviewed.
Speak to an Expert at Sparks Law Firm Today and Arrange a Free Consultation
Reinstating your license after a DWI is much easier with a driven and dedicated legal team on your side. At Sparks Law Firm, we believe that no mistake should dictate a person's life, and we are dedicated to defending your rights. Call us now to organize a free consultation to discuss your case and make the best steps for your future. If you are wondering how long does a DUI case take in Texas, that will depend on the gravity of the offense and how your lawyer will help you handle it.