Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious criminal charge to face as a defendant. “It is a legal nightmare for the accused and the final punishments and penalties can be very dependent on the knowledge and expertise of the DWI defense lawyer,” stated Austin DWI attorney Kevin Bennett, one of the most sought after lawyers when local residents are facing a DWI charge.
“Your average criminal lawyer may be unfamiliar with not only the most current DWI laws, but also with the secondary laws that relate to criminal record sealing, expunction, and how they are applied specifically to DWI cases. This is why hiring the best DWI attorney that you are able can oftentimes make the difference in the penalties you face now as well as your ability to seal your record in the future. For example, I have seen many defense lawyers in Austin miss out on valuable opportunities to help their clients avoid a DWI conviction. Some of these lawyers make the mistake of failing to request or negotiate DWI deferred adjudication as part of a plea deal. The State of Texas only recently and quietly allowed for deferred adjudication in DWI cases. Unfortunately, many criminal lawyers are unaware of these opportunities to help their clients get the best possible results, ” explained Mr. Bennett.
Penalties and punishment for a DWI conviction vary depending on the number of previous DWI convictions, the level of blood alcohol content (BAC), and other circumstances such as an accident, serious bodily injury, and minor children in the vehicle. At a minimum a first time offender is usually facing a Class B Misdemeanor, a suspended license up to 365 days, up to $2000 in statutory fines plus an additional $3000 mandatory state fine, and possibly a few days of incarceration. Repeat DWI offenders could be facing a 3rd Degree Felony, up to a $10,000 fine, license suspension, up to 600 hours of community service, and as much as 10 years in jail depending on other circumstances.
The best DWI lawyers in Austin are going to devote a large percentage of their practice to the defense of DWI and will be well-versed in all aspects of current Texas DWI laws. The best DWI lawyers will understand the little nuances in these laws and understand how to use these laws to the defendant’s advantage and to help mitigate the penalties being faced, as well as potentially preserve the defendant’s options down the road in getting the DWI case sealed or expunged.
Austin, the capital of Texas, is perhaps the most unique and vibrant city in the state and home to the University of Texas with 50,000+ students from all 50 states and 124 countries. It is no surprise that sometimes an excess of alcohol finds its way into student parties, political events, corporate business, and festivals such as South by Southwest. In recent years the number of DWI cases in Austin has averaged between 5000 and 6000 per year. However, there was a 19% drop in the number of cases in 2018 from 2017.
One of the keys to reducing DWI cases and curbing repeat offenders is to offer treatment and counseling. According to the Travis County Courts website, the DWI Court is a court-sanctioned twelve month program designed to rehabilitate repeat DWI offenders. In some cases the DWI court is offered to defendants in lieu of a jail sentence. One national study claims that that DWI courts have reduced recidivism by as much as 60 percent.
Another recent and major change in Texas law allows for DWI convictions to be sealed through an order of non-disclosure. Under narrow circumstances, some of which can be negotiated for with prosecutors, individuals convicted of DWI can still come back in the future and seal their DWI conviction from public view. For example, one of the main barriers to non-disclosure of DWI convictions is if the Court finds that an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was equal to or greater to .15 in the case. Again, this is something that a good DWI lawyer can dispute or get the Court to waive or not enter such a finding.
Everyone arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) wants the charges dismissed or reduced. What most people do not realize is that successful resolution of a DWI case is often decided at the very beginning of the case, when the DWI or DUI attorney in Austin is hired. While successful resolution relies heavily on the facts of the case itself, the best chance of resolving a DWI case favorably often comes down to the legal skills and knowledge of the defense lawyer.
The Law Office of Kevin Bennett
1411 West Ave #100, Austin, Texas 78701