Do You Need a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your First DUI?

Defense

Updated on August 24, 2022

Any DUI is a serious legal matter. Some people think that their first DUI is not a big deal and that they don't need to hire a defense lawyer. The reality is that you face severe consequences for any DUI conviction—even if it is your first arrest.

These consequences are not limited to just your criminal case, either. You can be subjected to criminal, administrative, and civil consequences as a result of a DUI, and some of these occur even before you are convicted. For this reason, it’s in your best interest to contact a Florence criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can after a drunk driving arrest.

Here are just some of the many potential consequences you face as a result of your first DUI:

Criminal Consequences of a DUI

Any DUI—even your first DUI offense—can be punished by jail time. The Texas Penal Code has a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours for a DUI conviction, with a maximum possible term of 180 days. If there is an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, the minimum term of confinement is 6 days.

Jail time can be increased if you committed other offenses or if there were aggravating circumstances.

Criminal consequences of a DUI can also include the following repercussions:

  • Probation

  • Court costs

  • Fines

  • Community service requirements

  • Substance abuse screening and treatment

  • Counseling

  • Additional court orders

These consequences add up quickly. Even apart from the time you spend in jail, you will spend a lot of time and money to resolve a DUI case.

Administrative Consequences of a DUI

The criminal consequences of a DUI are only the start of your troubles. You can also face these driving-related consequences after a DUI conviction:

  • Your driver’s license will be affected by a DUI conviction.

  • You can lose your driving privileges for up to a year, and points will be assessed against your license.

  • Your car insurance rates will go up.

  • You will likely incur a lot of costs in hiring cabs or Ubers to get where you need to go during the time that your license is affected.

These consequences are administrative matters handled through the Texas DMV. You can challenge these proceedings, but that, too, requires a significant investment of time and money. Once you have been convicted in a criminal court, it is difficult to challenge administrative matters with the DMV.

Your driver’s license is not the only license that can be affected by a DUI conviction. Many jobs require a professional license to practice in Texas. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, child care workers, medical support staff, hairstylists, and veterinary assistants, to name a few, require licensure through the state. Many of these boards require you to report a DUI conviction.

Some boards will not take action if a DUI conviction is reported, but others will suspend your professional license as a result. For more information, read “The Professional Consequences of a DUI.”

Once again, you have the right to challenge this decision, but it requires an investment of time and money—and it is difficult to fight if you have been convicted or plead guilty to DUI in the criminal court. For help with your court battle, contact a criminal defense attorney today.

Civil Consequences of a DUI

In addition to criminal cases and administrative matters, there are also civil matters that can arise as a result of a DUI conviction:

Personal Injury Claims

If anyone was injured as a result of your DUI, they have the right to file a civil claim against you for personal injury. If you have been arrested for DUI, it will be difficult for your insurance company to argue that you were not negligent—even if you have not yet been convicted or have not pleaded guilty to DUI.

A settlement will increase your insurance rates (again, regardless of whether a conviction has occurred). If the case does not settle, you may have to go to court on the personal injury claim, and this will be even more stressful. Evidence of a DUI conviction can often be introduced as evidence against you in the civil case.

If your insurance coverage is not high enough to pay a civil judgment, the plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer can enforce the judgment against you personally. This is yet another financial complication that can haunt you for years after the DUI occurs.

Child Custody Decisions

Child custody matters are also civil in nature. The family court is even more liberal about admitting evidence of drinking because the immediate safety of children is at issue.

Unlike in personal injury cases, where your DUI usually cannot be admitted into evidence at trial until there is a conviction, family court is concerned about arrests, citations, and even the possibility that you are drinking excessively around your children. The other parent can ask for sole custody on this basis—even if you have not yet been convicted of anything.

You, of course, have the right to defend your parental rights, but this, too, requires an expensive and stressful battle in the civil court. You may need to hire a separate custody lawyer, provide blood or breath tests to prove that you haven’t been drinking, and get a report from a substance abuse counselor stating their opinion that you do not endanger your children.

All of this work for your defense takes a lot of time and money. The process is also stressful and can damage your relationship with your children.

If the charges are dropped, this can help strengthen your case to the family court, but often the damage has already been done. Fortunately, an experienced Florence defense attorney may be able to help mitigate the effect of a DUI on any custody issues. Contact an attorney today to discuss your options.

Call Us Today to Speak with a Florence Criminal Defense Lawyer

Any DUI carries a wide array of consequences—even if it is your first offense. By hiring an experienced Florence defense lawyer, you will ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the criminal case process. A lawyer can also help mitigate the consequences of a conviction in order to help you move past it and continue your law-abiding life.

Call (254) 781-4222 or fill out an online contact form to schedule your FREE consultation with Attorney Brett H. Pritchard. Attorney Pritchard has extensive experience defending DUI cases in Texas courts. He will fight to protect your constitutional rights and ensure that your case is fair at every step of the process.

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