DUI Law in Austin, TX
What Is a DUI?
DUI, which refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is a criminal offense that can lead to weighty consequences. Also known as DWI, the process of going to court to face either conviction or exoneration can change the course of your life forever.
Learn more about your DUI law defense options below, and then talk to a local attorney in Austin, Texas who will help you in this delicate situation. You don’t have to stare down consequences alone. You can take wise steps today to protect your interests.
Possible Consequences of an Austin, Texas DUI Conviction
Where you live, the severity of the incident, and your criminal record determine the sentencing for a DUI. The punishments can drastically increase if you have had previous DUIs, so be mindful of that. If this is your first DUI, do not go at it alone and risk costly mistakes. Get an Austin law firm on your side to fight for you and your rights.
If convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Austin, Texas, you can count on fines being a part of your sentencing. In Texas, DUI is typically referred to as DWI. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, DWI fines can range from up to $2,000 for a first offense, to $10,000 for a third offense. However, drunk driving with a child passenger carries additional fines of up to $10,000.
However, other factors can drastically increase the amount you must pay, including:
- Any damage to property while driving under the influence
- If someone suffered injuries as a result of your intoxicated driving
- Cases that include child endangerment
- Any court costs associated with your case
Jail time is mandatory, even for first-time offenders in Austin. If this is your first DUI offense, you may only have to face a day or two in prison. But if you have previous convictions for DUIs, you can be sentenced to several months or years, depending on the nature of the crime. Know that some circumstances can add even more time in a cell, including injury to other people while driving under the influence.
If you do not face jail time, you will likely be on probation, with the sentencing judge determining the duration. You will pay monthly fees, and you cannot commit any more criminal offenses, including traffic violations. If you violate the terms of your probation, count on facing time behind bars.
Your first DWI offense in Texas carries three mandatory days in jail. However, the judge may replace serving extra jail time with up to 2 years of probation. Terms can include attending a Victim Impact Panel, and submitting to periodic or random alcohol testing. Probation court costs can range from $350 to $400. In addition, supervision fees are generally $62 per month. Violating probation may result in additional fines, jail time and community service. If you live in Austin, you will typically meet your probation officer at the Travis County Probation Intake Office.
Drug and Alcohol Education Program
Following an Austin DUI sentencing, the law states you must complete a drug and alcohol education program. This will teach you about the dangers of driving under the influence. These programs cost more fees besides the legal costs you already have to pay.
The DWI Education Program is a requirement in Texas for any person convicted of a first offense. The class can also be taken pre-trial. Typically, the class is a total of 12 hours over 3 – 4 days. The class must be completed within 180 days from the date probation is granted. For residents of Austin, you may attend a state-approved program at Austin Education Resource. Of note, advance payment of $150 is required. Upon completion, you will receive a Texas State issued numbered certificate.
The education programs also include a DUI evaluation. An evaluator asks you questions about how alcohol and drugs affect your life. If they believe that you are dependent, you may have to enter a substance abuse treatment program.
Suspension or Loss of License
No matter where you may face a DUI conviction, you have to undergo a license suspension period, at the very least. If it is your first DUI, you may have a license suspension for a few months while you go through probation and the drug and alcohol education program.
If this is not your first DUI, you may have your license suspended for much longer, or you could have it taken from you permanently.
What Should You Do When Charged With a DUI in Austin, Texas?
If you’re facing a felony DUI charge, you must take the following steps to protect yourself:
Step 1: Contact an Attorney Familiar With Austin, TX DUI Law
Immediately following your DUI arrest, you need to contact an experienced Austin DUI attorney. Your attorney can help prepare for your arraignment and prepare a defense to vindicate yourself or reduce the sentencing.
Step 2: Learn About Your Local DUI Laws
Austin, Texas has unique laws for DUI or DWI charges. Your lawyer will work with you to help you better understand your state’s laws on driving while intoxicated. It is critical to understand what charges you face and the potential outcomes of your case.
Step 3: Request a DMV Hearing
You or your attorney should request a hearing as soon as possible following your arrest. In Austin, Texas you only have so much time to ask for a DMV hearing to keep your license until your court appearance. If you do not request a hearing, prepare for a license suspension.
If you are arrested for a DWI in Texas, the police officer will take your license, and issue a temporary driving permit. You must request your administrative hearing within 15 days of your arrest. You must also pay a fee of $125. Otherwise, the Texas Department of Public Safety will automatically suspend your license after 40 days. However, it could take up to 60 days for the hearing to be scheduled. If you live in Austin, your hearing is typically held at the State Office of Administrative Hearings, located at 300 W. 15th Street.
Step 4: Prepare for Court Appearance
You and your attorney will prepare for your appearance and arraignment in Austin. If you plead “not guilty,” your DUI defense attorney represents you in court, and a judge and jury oversee the DUI law case.
Step 5: Receive Sentencing or Exoneration
You will either be “not guilty” of the charges brought against you and walk free, or you will receive sentencing for a guilty verdict.
Work with an Experienced Local DUI Lawyer in Austin, Texas
Should you ever find yourself charged with a DUI, you need to work with an experienced Austin, TX lawyer who can stand up for you in court. You cannot clear your name of the charges or reduce the consequences without help. Your life and future depend on having great legal representation during your DUI case. Contact an attorney near you today. We can even help you connect with legal help across Texas state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!