Many states experience an increase in DWI cases around the holiday season, and Texas is no exception. While most drivers are aware that DWI has serious criminal consequences, they do not always realize that a DWI can place a professional license in jeopardy, too. Learn more about the processes of criminal justice and professional discipline for those accused of DWI. Defendants should contact an experienced Texas professional license defense attorney to protect their professional interests.
The Criminal Consequences of DWI
Without prior convictions, a DWI is designated as a class four misdemeanor (Texas Statutes, Title 10 §49.09). Class Four Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, a jail term of up to one year, or both (Texas Statutes, Title 3 §12.21). The Texas Statutes also provide for the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. Under Title 7 §524.001, an arresting officer must take a DWI suspect’s driver’s license and issue a notice of suspension, along with a temporary license valid for forty one days. The Department of Public Safety must then suspend the driver’s license if the defendant had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit. This entire process in entirely independent of any criminal proceedings.
The Texas Penal Code Section 49.01(1) defines intoxication as 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. This means that defendants can also face the consequences of DWI if they are under the influence of drugs. This can include recreational drugs, medicinal marijuana, or even lawfully-prescribed medications which were used as directed.
How a DWI Affects Your Professional Licensure
Each licensing board in Texas sets its own requirements for reporting arrests and criminal charges. Some license holders are obligated to report arrests and charges themselves, as soon as they occur. In other cases, the board may learn about the incident itself, and contact the license holder to begin the process of investigation and disciplinary proceedings. These processes will also vary depending on the board which is conducting them. Some boards prefer to let the criminal case run its course before determining if any disciplinary measures are required. Others will conduct their own investigations independently of the criminal court proceedings. In either case, if the board determines that the license holder violated the standards set forth by the board, discipline will be imposed. This may be as simple as remediation through coursework or community service. In other cases, a license may be temporarily suspended or revoked. (Suspension results in the license being reinstated automatically at the end of the suspension period, whereas revocation requires the license holder to apply for reinstatement at the end of the revocation period.) The most severe discipline a board can impose is permanent revocation of a professional license, which permanently bans the license holder from practicing his or her profession within the State of Texas.
The consequences of a DWI can be severe, and they are not limited to the criminal court system. A Texas professional license defense attorney can help mitigate the damage any criminal charge may have against your professional licensure.