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Everything you need to know about changes to DWI laws

The Texas legislature has changed the drinking and driving laws! Effective September 1, 2019, if you are a first-time offender for driving while intoxicated, with a blood alcohol level lower than .15 percent, you are eligible for deferred adjudication


WHAT IS DEFERRED ADJUDICATION?



Deferred adjudication is a type of probation you can be placed on by a judge. You plead guilty; however, the judge will not find you guilty and place you on deferred adjudication for a certain period. Upon completion of this probation your case will be dismissed and you will not have a final conviction on your record. Further, you can even petition the court to seal the case so long as you meet certain requirements.


BEWARE -- YOUR FIRST OFFENSE CAN BE RESURRECTED


If you get arrested a second time for DWI after having pleaded guilty to a previous DWI charge and subsequently placed on deferred adjudication, your first case can be used to enhance the punishment range against you.


In other words, even though you were able to get your first case dismissed on deferred adjudication, it can still be used against you in the future.

So you may be asking yourself, what is the benefit of deferred adjudication? The answer seems to be at the very least, to avoid mandatory superfines – which are discussed immediately below.

MANDATORY SUPER-FINES



The Texas Legislature has also passed new laws implementing DWI fines. Dubbed superfines, these fines are meant to financially disincentivize drunk drivers from drunk driving. These fines are in addition to the criminal fine imposed as part of the punishment of a DWI offense. If you are finally convicted of DWI, the following fines are MANDATORY and must be assessed in your case if found guilty:


· $3,000 for the first conviction within a 36-month period;

· $4,500 for a second or subsequent conviction within a 36-month period; and

· $6,000 for a first or subsequent conviction if it is shown on the trial of the offense that an analysis of a specimen of the person’s blood, breath, or urine showed an alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more at the time the analysis was performed.


If you are finally convicted of an offense relating to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated that means that you pleaded guilty and either got placed on straight probation (not deferred adjudication) or served jail time.


While these fines are mandatory, there are exceptions. If you cannot afford to pay these mandatory fines the judge may waive them only upon showing that you are indigent. A good defense attorney can (and always should) present evidence that you are indigent in order for the judge to waive these mandatory fines.


IT IS MANDATORY TO INSTALL A BREATHALYZER DEVICE IN YOUR VEHICLE


If you are found guilty of a first time DWI and are placed on deferred adjudication, it is now MANDATORY that you have a breathalyzer device installed in your vehicle, also known as an interlock device. These devices cost anywhere from $70 to $150 to install, and monthly maintenance fees of up to $100 a month.


However, the initial installation fee can be waived and the monthly installments fees may be cut in half. A seasoned defense attorney would be able to help you obtain these types of exceptions.


If you or someone you know has been arrested for DWI call the Sosa Law Office at 956–621–1277 to set up a free consultation or for inquiries, you can email us at julianna@jasosalaw.com.


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