Have you been pulled over for driving under the influence? If these charges are not addressed quickly and efficiently, you could be faced with long-lasting ramifications.
Now is not the time to cut corners or try to represent yourself. Retaining a lawyer now is an investment in your future.
If you want to avoid steep fees, a suspended license, and possible jail time. your best bet is to hire a lawyer for DUI charges.
1. You Could Get Your License Taken Away
If you are pulled over for suspected driving under the influence, the police will usually confiscate your physical license. They will give you a Notice of Suspension, a temporary license that allows you to drive before an automatic suspension takes effect.
If you need to commute to work, or if you drive for a living, getting a DUI charge could have a disastrous impact on your life and ability to earn a living.
In order to prevent this automatic suspension, you will need to proceed immediately to an administrative hearing. A lawyer can facilitate this hearing which is the first step towards ultimately restoring your ability to drive.
2. You May Face Thousands of Dollars in Fees
If you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more, Texas law considers you to be lacking the mental or physical faculties need to drive safely. If this is your first such offense, you may be fined up to $2,000.
If your BAC is found to be 15% or more, the fines increase to $4,000 or more. If you have had multiple DUIs, the fines can go as high as $10,000.
This $10,000 fine is also levied on drivers found operating a vehicle while impaired with a child in the car.
3. A Lawyer Can Represent You in a Hearing
You have the right to challenge your driver’s license suspension at a hearing before the license suspension goes into effect.
You may want to dispute the charges yourself, but the rules governing these charges are complex. If you don’t do it right, the consequences can be severe.
You have 15 days to request an ARL hearing. If you miss the 15-day deadline, your license will be suspended from 90 days up to 2 years.
A lawyer who is experienced in these types of cases knows how to handle these hearings. He or she can scrutinize the case against you including police reports and breathalyzer results. He or she can start to lay the groundwork for an effective defense.
4. A Lawyer Can Dispute a Breathalyzer Result
Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may dispute the right of the police to pull you because they lacked probable cause. Maybe the law enforcement officer did not have the proper training or credentials. Maybe the testing equipment was faulty.
Mouthwash and medication can also lead to incorrect results. A good lawyer will know how to explore all of these options and leverage them to your advantage.
5. A Lawyer Can Negotiate on Your Behalf
Many DUIs are settled before they go to court. Another benefit to retaining a good lawyer is that they will have good relationships with prosecutors, and can effectively negotiate settlements which are satisfactory to both sides.
If you have never been in trouble before, if you were on medication, or if there were extenuating circumstances in the situation, your lawyer can negotiate to keep your license. He or she can reach an agreement with the DA on a fine instead of jail time, or even public service or probation.
6. A Lawyer Can Help You Avoid Jail Time
Texas considers drunk driving an extremely serious infraction. Texas ranks number 5 as the most dangerous state for alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities. The total number of fatalities in Texas in 2017 was 3,722.
In order to effectively discourage driving under the influence, Texas imposes strict punishment on drivers found guilty of these charges, especially repeat offenders.
If you are picked up for DUI, you face anywhere from three days to 99 years in jail. The sentence will be based on a combination of criminal history, BAC, and any aggravating circumstances.
Those aggravating factors might include driving with a child passenger, driving with an open container, and having an accident while drunk. Penalties are even more severe when someone was injured or killed in an accident involving DUI.
A good attorney can work to reduce the potential penalties. They can argue for a reduced sentence or probation instead of jail. They may also convince the court to send you to a diversionary program such a rehab which may allow you to avoid jail.
7. A Lawyer Can Work with You To Seal Your Record
In 2017, the Texas legislature passed a bill enabling one to seal a DUI conviction and remove it from public and private institution background checks. A good DUI lawyer will help you through this process.
You may be able to achieve this if you meet the following criteria:
- You have only one DWI conviction
- Your BAC was lower than 0.15 percent
- You have no other convictions
- There was no accident or injury
You must also then complete any jail sentence or probation, and pay all fines and court costs.
You may have to wait between two and five years to apply for this, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Get a Lawyer for DUI Charges: Mitigate the Damage
Hiring a lawyer for DUI charges is imperative if you want to minimize the negative impact of one mistake on the rest of your life.
It may well make the difference between time in jail and probation. It can make the difference between a permanent mark on your record that affects your future career opportunities, and having this terrible error go away.
An attorney with experience in this specific area of law is indispensable in getting your life back on track. Look for a lawyer who has helped people in situations like yours, with satisfactory results. Find someone with a strong track record in your geographic region and a good reputation in the legal community.
For more information on retaining a Houston DUI attorney, here are some frequently asked questions.