Avoiding a DWI This Holiday Season

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Carroll Troberman, PLLC

The Christmas holiday season is supposed to be a time of celebration and jolly cheer–the last thing you want to be worrying about is a DWI charge. With holiday parties every weekend, it can be difficult to avoid alcohol while surrounded with coworkers, friends, and family. It is important to celebrate the holidays right and have a good time, but be responsible. Here is some information on Christmas time DWIs: cause, frequency, and prevention.

The Cost of a DWI: Was it Worth it?

As you may be aware, a single DWI on your record has the ability to throw your life for a loop, and a second or third drinking and driving charge can negatively impact your life in more detrimental ways than you can imagine.

For a first offense DWI, you can expect harsh fines and increased insurance rates, not to mention, a red flag on your record that will detrimentally affect future employment and/or educational opportunities. Money is not the only issue, but there is a possibility that you will have to do jail time. For instance, a first offense for DWI can result in a jail sentence of up to 180 days or up to two years probation, and a fine up to $2,000. Probation can include court-mandated DWI education courses, community service and other restrictions on your life. You face an automatic driver’s license suspension 40 days after your arrest if you fail to request an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days of the arrest. All of these consequences are only for a first offense DWI.

If you have not learned from your first mistake and get a second DWI charge, you can expect even harsher penalties–a second DWI on your record is a Class A misdemeanor, the most serious of all misdemeanor charges. With a second DWI, a person automatically faces a mandatory jail sentence ranging from 30 days to one year in jail. You can expect monetary consequences up to $4000, and that does not include legal aid and court fees! It does not stop here, but with a second offense DWI, a person could have their drivers’ license taken away for as much as two years. That is a very long time to have to rely on rides from friends or a bus schedule! Once a person with a second DWI offense is legally allowed to drive again, he or she may be required to have a ignition interlock device placed in their car.

Texas has a Three Strikes Rule when it comes to DWIs, and with each one, the penalties become increasingly more strict. Therefore, you can expect the consequences for a third offense DWI, which is a third degree felony, to be especially harsh. Just like with first and second offenses, an offender can expect mandatory alcohol and substance abuse programs as well as drivers’ license suspension. However, with a third DWI, a person is no longer looking at jail time, but a two to ten year stint in prison instead. Moreover, the monetary damage a third DWI can threaten the finances of just about anyone–fines and expenses could add up to as much as $10,000. Shocking? Maybe you should remember this if you try to get behind the wheel after a night of drinking at a holiday party.

December: National Impaired Driving Prevention Month 2013

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), this December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month 2013. It is a well known fact that drunk driving related deaths spike during the holiday season (830 people died during the month of December in 2012), and as an effort to prevent this, President Obama has devoted this month to drunk driving prevention. For instance, the President said in his proclamation that December is a time to “drive sober, buckle-up, and avoid distractions while driving. If we take these actions and encourage those around us to do the same, we will save thousands of lives and keep thousands of families whole.”

Because drunk driving awareness and prevention is especially highlighted this month, you can expect law enforcement to make quite an appearance watching the roads, especially days closer to Christmas and New Years. For instance, some cities have made announcements that a large number of police officers will be patrolling the roads, specifically looking for drunk drivers and to issue DWI and DUIs. Protect yourself and others on the road, and be a smart driver or drinker, but not at the same time, of course.

Holiday Parties: A Chance to Let Loose

When at a holiday party, it can often be hard to keep count of the amount of drinks you have had, especially when you are not the person paying. Moreover, when having a good time letting loose alongside family, friends, and coworkers, it can be hard to keep more pragmatic matters, like DWIs, in mind. It is very understandable, and thousands of people do this every year. If you wish to have a few drinks this holiday season, be aware of your limits. For some people, one drink is enough to get a BAC past .08 (the legal limit). However, for others, it might take as much as three or four drinks to get to that same point. This inconsistency can make it hard to decipher how much is too much to drive. Just remember, buzzed driving is drunk driver. Therefore, if you begin to feel impaired in the least, it is probably best to hitch a ride from a sober driver or catch a cab. Much like with Christmas parties, know your limits when it comes to New Years Eve celebrations. It is always best to start the new year off right–there is no need to bring last year’s DWI charges into the next.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you happen to get yourself into a bad drinking and driving position and you end up with a DWI, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A fast response is key, and it is equally as important to pick a criminal defense attorney with experience in DWIs who can act quickly. If you are need of a Austin DWI attorney, Contact Carroll Troberman, PLLC.