DWI charges shouldn’t be taken lightly in Houston, Texas. For a first-time offense, offenders are required to pay up to $2,000 in fines, spend up to 180 days in prison, and lose their driver’s license for a year.
For second-time offenses, the fines increase to $4,000, offenders spend up to a year in prison, and they lose their driver’s license for up to two years.
For third-time offenses, offenders pay to up $10,000 and spend up to 10 years in jail. These penalties are career ending and life changing and should be treated as such.
If you were recently charged with driving while intoxicated, consider how these charges will affect your employment and career. Are you legally required to inform your employer? If you work in health care or are a pilot, are you required to inform your state licensing board?
Continue reading to find out.
1. What Does Your Employment Contract Say?
As a rule of thumb, always check your employment contract/handbook to understand your contractual obligations. If your company requires its employees to provide information about their arrests (including DWI charges), you have to oblige. If your employer has no such policy, then it’s up to you whether you inform them of your arrest.
2. What Should I Tell My Boss?
If you’re required to disclose your arrest to your boss, make sure you provide an explanation of the circumstances and the measures you’re taking to prevent another arrest. You may be fired on the spot, but if you show that you are taking actions like going to alcohol rehabilitation or therapy, your employer may show leniency as you work through your issues.
It’s possible that the charges weren’t justified and you were wrongly arrested, so make sure it’s clear that you are fighting the charges to attempt to clear your name. However, avoid oversharing; the minute details about your case should remain private. But if you have a trusting relationship with your employer, it may be worth telling them.
Keep in mind that fighting your DWI charges will require you to appear in court and meet with your attorney several times before your trial date is set. Once your trial date is set, you will need additional time off to attend the legal proceedings.
3. Inform Your Professional Licensing Board
Medical License: If you hold a professional license in health care, such as a nurse or doctor, you must inform your licensing board. If this is your first DWI, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and your medical license should not be suspended or revoked. However, the arrest will cause the medical board to launch an investigation to see whether there’s a relationship between your DWI and your ability to practice. There are other factors that will be considered in the board’s decision, so call your attorney to understand next steps.
Commercial Driver’s License: If you hold a commercial driver’s license and you are arrested for DWI, you will likely lose your license if you refuse to submit to a breath or blood test or you fail the breath or blood test. Remember, your driver’s license suspension is a separate case from your criminal DWI case. You will need to attend an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing to petition the court to get your license back.
Pilot’s License: If you are a pilot, whether commercial or private, your license may be suspended or revoked if you’re arrested for DWI. Since you must possess and renew your aviation medical certificate confirming that you are healthy enough to fly an aircraft safely, it’s not mandatory that you report your DWI arrest on your aviation medical application, but the conflict comes in the fact that the Federal Aviation Administration says that you do. Consult your attorney if you are in this situation.
3. When Should I Break the News?
Timing is extremely important. Hire a lawyer before you inform your employer about your DWI arrest. Your attorney can provide counsel on whether you should inform your employer.
As you navigate through your DWI charges, keep in mind that you are innocent until the state proves otherwise. Make sure you consult an experienced DWI attorney as soon after your arrest as possible. Attorney JL Carpenter understands your situation and can begin defending your rights immediately. Explore her practice areas and reach out to her when you’re ready to get started.
JL serves clients across the Greater Houston area, including in Friendswood, Clear Lake, League City, Galveston, and Webster, among several other areas. She also handles drug possession, domestic violence, and family violence cases. For more insight, take a closer look at her track record.