Too many people don’t take a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge seriously – particularly if it’s their first one. They may not even bother to get legal representation to determine whether they have grounds for challenging the stop, arrest or charge.
They may just plead guilty to try to put it behind them. However, even a first offense (which is typically a misdemeanor) carries a potential $2,000 fine, a mandatory minimum of three days behind bars (up to six months) and the loss of driving privileges for as long as a year.
If that’s not enough to convince you not to just accept a charge, remember this – you can’t get to a second or subsequent DWI conviction without that first one. The more convictions you have, the greater chance you have of spending many years in prison.
Those with life sentences didn’t injure or kill others
A report published last fall found that over 4,000 people were currently incarcerated throughout the state for DWI. Of those, 21 were serving life sentences.
Those 21 people were not involved in crashes that injured or killed anyone. A fifth DWI alone can carry a life sentence in Texas. As a representative of Mothers Against Drunk Driving noted, “it’s just a matter of time before they take a life” if people are allowed the opportunity to get behind the wheel again – even if they can’t do so legally.
Certainly, it can be argued that someone with that many DWI convictions has a substance abuse issue that can be treated without putting them behind bars for the rest of their lives. However, this is a sure-fire way to keep people from getting behind the wheel.
While you may be certain that you would never accumulate five DWIs, even a third DWI conviction comes with the potential for a decade behind bars and over $10,000 in fines and up to two years without a license. Of course, if anyone is injured or killed, the consequences can be far worse.
Whether you’re facing your first DWI or you’re in danger of becoming a “repeat offender,” you have a right to challenge the charge. Getting experienced legal guidance is your best first step.