If you are visiting Texas on business, as a tourist, or coming to a Texas university from out of state, you will be subject to Texas laws when driving on the road. This includes Texas laws for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Even though you get a DWI in Texas, your home state may still suspend your license. This means having to deal with the consequences of a DWI in Texas and at home.
A local DWI defense lawyer can help you clear up a drunk driving arrest in Texas. This may even avoid having your home-state license suspended. Retaining an attorney as soon as possible is your best chance at fighting the DWI conviction. Contact Carl David Ceder Attorney at Law to learn more about a DWI for drivers who live in a different state.
Texas DWI Laws for Out-of-State Residents
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.04, driving while intoxicated as an offense committed when “the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.”
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.01, there are two ways to determine whether a person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place, including:
- Not 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.
Texas DWI Penalties
The criminal penalties for a Texas DWI will be the same for an out-of-state driver as for a Texas driver. The criminal charges and penalties may depend on the specific facts of your case, prior criminal history, and whether anyone was hurt in an accident.
- 1st offense DWIs in Texas are generally Class B misdemeanors, with a fine of up to $2,000 and 72 hours to 180 days in jail.
- 2nd offense DWIs in Texas are generally Class A misdemeanors, with a fine of up to $4,000 and 30 days to one year in jail.
- 3rd offense DWIs in Texas are generally 3rd-degree felonies, with a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment from 2 to 10 years.
As an out-of-state resident, your Texas DWI defense lawyer may be able to handle most of the proceedings on your behalf so you do not have to return to Texas for every court appearance, hearing, and trial. Your DWI defense lawyer may even be able to handle your entire case without you having to come to Texas. Contact a local Dallas/Fort Worth-area attorney to find out about how you can fight your DWI from out-of-state.
Texas Administrative License Suspension
What your home state does after reporting an administrative suspension may depend on the individual state and how the state recognizes another state's administrative suspension. Many states treat a Texas driving suspension as if it occurred in the home state and will suspend the driver's license just as if the driver was arrested for a DUI, OUI, or DWI in the home state.
You may be able to prevent a suspension of your driver's license by avoiding a Texas suspension and avoiding a criminal conviction. Challenging the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing requires immediate action. You only have 15 days after a DWI arrest to request a hearing. If you do not request a hearing in time, Texas will suspend your in-state driving privileges after 40 days.
Contact your Texas DWI defense lawyer as soon as possible after a DWI arrest. Your DWI defense lawyer may be able to challenge the suspension on your behalf, in most cases, without you having to come back to Texas for the hearing.
States Sharing Information About DWI Arrests and Convictions
Even if you never intend to set foot in Texas again, you need to clear up a DWI arrest because the arrest and criminal charges can follow you to your home state. Most states in the U.S., including Texas, are part of the Driver License Compact (DLC). Neighboring states New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana are all also part of the DLC.
The interstate compact is an exchange of information between different state motor vehicle departments. This includes reporting traffic offenses, license suspensions, and convictions from one member state to the individual's home licensing state.
If you are arrested for a DWI in Texas, there may be two different reports to your home state. Texas will first report the administrative action against the driver, such as suspension of your driving privileges in Texas. If you end up convicted of a DWI, Texas will then report the DWI conviction to your home state.
Fighting a Texas DWI From Out-of-State
Handling a DWI from out of state can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Individuals are generally expected to show up to all hearings and proceedings, even for an arraignment, which may only last a couple of minutes. This is where a local DFW-area lawyer can make a big difference.
Your attorney will be able to make some appearances on your behalf so you can stay home. Your attorney may also be able to negotiate with the court to allow you to appear for any mandatory hearings by phone or video conference.
Defending a Texas DWI
An experienced DWI defense lawyer is familiar with how the prosecutors handle drunk driving and drugged driving cases in the local courts. It is the prosecutor's job to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. There are a number of ways to challenge a DWI charge, including:
- Challenging the field sobriety tests,
- Challenging the chemical tests,
- Constitutional violations, and
- Lack of evidence.
Challenging field sobriety tests and chemical tests can weaken the prosecutor's case. If your attorney can get evidence of the tests suppressed, the prosecutor may have no choice but to drop the case. Even though the police like to use field sobriety tests, they can be very unreliable. There may be problems with the way the officer observed the tests, gave faulty instructions, or there were other reasons why the driver appeared to “fail” the test.
Similarly, chemical tests are not always reliable. Chemical tests rely on the police or others following the proper procedure, observing the driver, cleaning and maintaining the machines, and keeping track of the tests. Chemical tests may also be subject to false positives, such as showing a higher presence of alcohol because of medicine or a medical condition.
Constitutional violations may involve the police making an illegal traffic stop or violating the driver's rights against unlawful search or seizure. If the police make a search of the driver's vehicle without permission, without a warrant, and without another valid exception, they may have gathered evidence in violation of the driver's constitutional rights.
Contact an Aggressive, Smart DWI Defense Lawyer in Dallas Fort Worth Today
Even if you are a resident of another state, you will need to address your Texas DWI case in Texas. Carl David Ceder represents clients who were arrested for drunk driving in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area. He knows that there's a lot at stake in these cases, including the loss of your license, fines, and even possible jail time. Contact his office online or at 469-900-0000 today.