DWI vs. DUI & Driver’s License Suspension

In the State of Texas, “DWI” is Driving While Intoxicated. “DUI” is Driving Under the Influence under the age of 21.
Let’s say a 20-year-old has a glass of wine at dinner and then drives. If pulled over and asked to provide a breath test and the result is under .08, then the 20-year-old may be charged with “DUI” for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, but not charged with “DWI” because the blood alcohol content or BAC was not over the legal limit of .08.

A DUI is a Class C offense, like a speeding ticket, and punishable up to a $500 fine, but there are far-reaching implications on the individual’s driver’s license.

When charged with either DUI or DWI, a person’s license could get suspended up to 180 days.

Having a driver’s license is a privilege, not a right. When we obtain our driver’s license, we agree that we will consent to breath, blood or urine testing if asked, and if we do so, the results will be less than the legal limit of .08. If we refuse or if the results are higher than .08, our license could become suspended.

Clients charged with DWI come to us with “DIC Forms” provided to them by the arresting agency. These forms show whether the client consented or refused alcohol testing. They also tell the client that they may drive for 40 days on a temporary permit before the suspension of the driver’s license begins. This allows someone 40 days to find an alternate mode of traveling or obtain an occupational driver’s license.

In the small, fine print at the bottom of one of these forms, there are instructions on how to appeal the suspension within 15 days from the date of arrest. Once an appeal is timely requested, the suspension is on hold until a hearing takes place.

When clients come to us for DWI defense, we request a hearing on the license suspension. This is an administrative hearing so the client is not required to attend. This hearing is essential to DWI defense. We have had felony DWI charges dismissed based on the testimony of the arresting officer at the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing.

If the officer is under subpoena to attend the hearing and does not appear, then the case is dismissed and there is no license suspension. If the officer does appear, it gives us an opportunity to cross-examine the officer on the reason he or she came in contact with the client in the first place. If the officer’s testimony is insufficient, the case will get dismissed and there is no license suspension. If the officer’s testimony is sufficient, then there may be a license suspension, but the defense now knows how the officer would testify at the criminal trial. At that point, an occupational license may be acquired to allow the client to drive during the suspension period.

While the ALR Hearing somewhat affects the criminal case, the two lawsuits (civil license versus criminal DWI) do not have much else to do with each other. We have secured dismissals on the criminal DWI charge, but the client still had to fight to keep his or her driver’s license as a result of the ALR process.
Defending DWI and DUI charges require special knowledge of the intricacies of the law in this area. This is not a time when you would want to use your friend’s uncle who practices family law because that is all you can afford. At the Law Office of JL Carpenter all we practice is criminal defense. If you find yourself or a loved one charged with DWI or DUI, give us a call to help. 713.201.6767