All criminal cases have collateral consequences. For example, when people Google your name, some very unflattering images and entries may appear at the top of the page. Furthermore, many people must miss work to attend court appearances. Finally, criminal proceedings usually hang over people like dark clouds until they are resolved.
In some ways, DWI is not as bad as some other crimes. For example, a Section 49.04 violation is not a crime of moral turpitude. So, it may not have as many long-term adverse effects, especially in areas like immigration.
In other ways, DWI's collateral consequences are worse. In fact, these indirect consequences are sometimes worse than the fines, jail time, court supervision, and other direct consequences.
Drivers' License Suspension
Almost all DWI arrests include either a chemical test failure or a chemical test refusal. That could mean drivers' license suspension of up to:
90 days for a first failure,
180 days for a first refusal,
One year for a subsequent failure, and
Two years for a subsequent refusal.
A DWI conviction may mean drivers' license suspension as well. At a minimum, Tarrant County judges often order people with DWI convictions to install Ignition Interlock Devices on their vehicles.
IIDs disable the vehicle ignition if the driver has a BAC above .04 or another pre-set level. Furthermore, if the defendant does not blow into the portable Breathalyzer while the car is moving, it may not restart after the driver turns off the ignition.
A Fort Worth criminal defense attorney can help a person obtain an occupational drivers' license. ODLs allow people to drive to and from work, to and from school, and in the performance of household tasks. That last category includes things like to and from the doctor's office, to and from court, to and from church, and so on.
Higher Auto Insurance Rates
DWI convictions often cause auto insurance rates to double or triple. The law requires such individuals to obtain high-risk SR-22 insurance and keep it for at least three years. After that, the owner may shop around for a lower premium.
There is not much that any Fort Worth criminal defense attorney can do about auto insurance rates. However, a lawyer should be able to refer you to an insurance agent who can give you a good deal on SR-22 insurance.
Child Endangerment Charges
If a child under 16 was in the vehicle at the time of arrest, even if the child is not kin, prosecutors nearly always add child passenger enhancement charges. Such an allegation is a red flag for Child Protective Services. CPS investigators may descend on your house, and prosecutors may press child endangerment charges. This is a vague, general offense that's fairly easy to prove in court. Many times, the consequences are slight, but other times, the consequences are severe.
Plea negotiations are an excellent way to deal with DWI child endangerment upgrades. Negotiations almost always involve give and take. Sometimes, prosecutors drop enhancements if the defendant agrees to a longer probation term or a higher fine.
Many DWIs have serious, long-term indirect consequences. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. After-hours visits are available.