If you decide to get behind the wheel after drinking, you are at risk of being pulled over for driving while intoxicated. Anyone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher when pulled over will be convicted of a DWI. Penalties for DWI convictions vary in severity based on several factors including whether it is your first offense, if anyone was injured as a result of your impaired driving, and if you had a child in the car with you. Even one DWI conviction can have a serious impact on your future in a variety of ways.
One of the immediate consequences of a DWI conviction is the fine you will be required to pay. In the state of Texas, your first DWI conviction can cost you up to $2,000, while the charge for a second conviction is double that amount and a third offense can result in a fine of up to $10,000. If there was a child in the car while you were pulled over, you will be fined an additional $10,000. Many people do not have the resources to pay these fines out of pocket, and instead may be forced to sell their possessions or borrow money from friends or relatives.
Another immediate consequence of a DWI conviction that also has long-term repercussions is the suspension or abolishment of your driving privileges. A first-time DWI offender in Texas has the potential of losing his or her driver’s license for up to a year. For second and third DWI convictions, that suspension can last up to two years.
Not only does losing your driver’s license make it harder to find a job, as many jobs require that you have a valid driver’s license, but it can also make it more difficult to get to work if you normally rely on driving. Having your license taken away limits your freedom and independence, forcing you to rely on public transportation or rides from others in order to get from place to place.
Additionally, being convicted of a DWI will significantly increase your car insurance rates. The exact increase varies from state to state, but on average it is a staggering 80 percent. You might even be at risk of having your insurance canceled completely.
You can expect to serve some jail time if you are convicted of a DWI. First-time offenders in Texas can serve up to 180 days in jail, second-time offenders can serve up to a year, and third-time offenders can serve between two to ten years in prison. On top of appearing on your permanent record, serving time in jail or prison causes you to miss out on important aspects of your life, such as spending time with your children or working on your career.
A DWI conviction seriously impacts your professional life. You could lose your current job and have a very hard time finding another one, as you will have to disclose that you are a convicted felon on most job applications. Your conviction would show up in background checks conducted by potential employers as well.
Being convicted of a DWI affects your future opportunities in other ways as well. In Texas, a third DWI offense means that you will not be able to buy or own a firearm. Having a DWI conviction on your record also limits your ability to find housing. Finally, it can impact your personal relationships and cause the people you care about to lose their trust in you. Prevent these and other serious consequences by never drinking and driving.