Student DWI in San Antonio, Texas
In San Antonio and throughout Texas, a conviction for DWI (driving while intoxicated), or DUI (driving under the influence) may result in both criminal and civil penalties imposed by the state. Students who are charged with or convicted of DWI or DUI, including those who attend the University of Texas at San Antonio, may also face additional punishment from their school.
The Texas Legislature has enacted tough “zero tolerance” drunk driving laws for minors, who are considered to be anyone less than 21 years of age under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. Zero tolerance means that any detectable level of alcohol in a minor’s system while the minor is operating a motor vehicle or watercraft in a public place, is the criminal offense of DWI, even though adults are permitted to drive with a legal amount of alcohol in their systems.
Title 10, Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code details the state’s laws related to intoxication and alcoholic beverage offenses, with penalties upon conviction that may include jail time and heavy fines.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage code enumerates the enhanced penalties for drivers under the age of 21 convicted of alcohol-related offenses. The Texas Transportation Code details the expensive surcharges the state may also impose in order to maintain a driver’s license after a DWI conviction.
Students at the University of Texas at San Antonio — both adults and young people under the age of 21 — may face additional scrutiny or a disciplinary hearing under Appendix C, Section 11-804 of the University of Texas Student Discipline and Conduct Code after a DWI conviction.
Student DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in San Antonio, Texas
The Texas Penal Code, Title 10, Chapter 49.04, defines driving while intoxicated (DWI) in simple language: “A person commits an offense (of DWI) if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.”
Section 49.02 of the statute defines “intoxicated” as:
- Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body, or
- Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more
“Alcohol concentration,” also known as blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC, is defined in Section 49.01 of the law as the number of grams of alcohol per:
- 210 liters of breath
- 100 milliliters of blood, or
- 67 milliliters of urine
The police may conduct breath tests, blood tests, or urine tests to determine a driver’s BAC. A driver may refuse any DWI test, unless police obtain a warrant, but a refusal violates Texas’ implied consent law, resulting in the automatic suspension of a driver’s license. Under the zero tolerance policy, minors may face additional penalties if a DWI test is refused.
A driver who refuses a test is entitled to an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing, where the suspension may be challenged by the driver along with his or her legal counsel, but an ALR hearing must be requested within 15 days of the arrest.
Criminal and Civil Punishments for DWI in San Antonio, Texas
Criminal penalties for a Texas drunk driving conviction depend on the circumstances of the case, the level of intoxication, and the criminal history of the defendant. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to raise a number of questions about the integrity of the traffic stop, the determination of intoxication, and the arrest.
Any mistakes or procedural errors by the police or prosecutor that are identified by a DWI defense attorney could damage the prosecution’s case, making it more likely that the state may offer a plea bargain for a charge less than DWI. If major mistakes or errors occurred, a complete dismissal of the case becomes a possibility.
Criminal Penalties for First DWI Conviction
First-time DWI offenders will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor and can be sentenced to between 72 hours and 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000, along with a driver’s license suspension of up to one year. A first-time conviction also carries annual surcharges (under the Texas Transportation Code, Title 7, Chapter 708) levied by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) of $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years.
Criminal Penalties for First Conviction with BAC .15 or More
The charges for a first offense can be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor if a chemical test showed a BAC of 0.15 or more. The penalties for a first offense for this offense, also known as an “extreme DWI,” are similar to a conviction for a second DWI.
Criminal Penalties for Second DWI Conviction
A Class A misdemeanor, this offense could result in between 30 days to a year in jail, the loss of driving privileges for up to two years, and a fine of up to $4,000. A second DWI conviction also carries annual surcharges of $1,000 to $2,000 a year for three years.
Criminal Penalties for Third DWI Conviction
A third drunk driving offense, or any DUI-related offense after a second offense, is considered a third-degree felony in Texas, and is punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison, the loss of driving privileges for up to two years, and a fine of up to $10,000. Annual surcharges can reach $2,000 per year for three years.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Title 4, Chapter 106.071 lists the additional punishments that may be imposed for alcohol-related offenses by minors.
An experienced DWI lawyer will know the history of a particular court and the judges in it and use that knowledge in pursuit of the best possible outcome in a drunk driving case.
Civil Penalties for DWI Convictions
Civil penalties related to a DWI are often numerous and may include probation, community supervision, community service, installation of an ignition interlock device, drug and alcohol education courses, DWI school, annual surcharges and additional court fees and fines.
It is important to note that a person who is arrested for DWI in Texas will receive an automatic driver’s license suspension. The suspension may be appealed, but only within 15 days of the arrest. Therefore, it is vital that you consult with an attorney in order to schedule an administrative hearing and avoid a license suspension.
Academic Ramifications of a DWI Charge in San Antonio, Texas
Students charged with a DWI may also face disciplinary action by their institution. Whether you are a high school student, junior college student, vocational school student, or a student at a four-year college or university, your academic options may be compromised as the result of a DWI charge, even if you are eventually acquitted of a crime.
For example, the University of Texas at San Antonio may initiate disciplinary proceedings for many reasons against a student, including those who:
- Engage in conduct that violates any provision of federal, state, and/or local laws whether or not the violation occurs on University property or in connection with any University oriented activity
- Use or possesses alcoholic beverages without proper authorization in a University classroom building, laboratory, auditorium, library building, museum, faculty or administrative office, intercollegiate and intramural athletic facility, residence hall or any other public campus area (emphasis added)
Academic discipline for a DWI charge may range from a written warning to probation to expulsion. Certain rights and privileges may be withdrawn, including scholarships or the ability to participate on an athletic team or in extracurricular activities. A diploma may also be denied.
A qualified attorney may be able to represent you at an academic disciplinary hearing and assist you in reducing or eliminating any sanctions you may face.
Student DWI Attorney in San Antonio, Texas
If you are a student accused of DWI, DUI, or drunk driving in San Antonio, Texas, or Bexar County, Texas, you should contact an attorney experienced with DWI-related criminal defense. We are also experienced with the civil side of the case in the administrative action. As if that isn’t enough, college students often face a third battle during student disciplinary proceedings at their educational institutions. A qualified lawyer may be able to address all three areas of concern: criminal, civil, and academic.
A skilled attorney may be able to find problems with the prosecution’s case or the arrest itself. Filing and litigating motions to dismiss and motions to supress may lead to a reduction or dismissal of the charges.
You may also face time limits related to retaining your driving privileges, which a competent attorney can handle while advising you on how to retain your license. Finally, a qualified attorney can represent you at a college disciplinary hearing, if necessary.
If you are a student who was arrested for DWI, DUI, or drunk driving in San Antonio, Boerne, Comfort, or the surrounding areas, The Parent Law Firm is equipped with the local knowledge and resources necessary to defend you in all the aspects of your case. Dave Parent is a dedicated DWI attorney in Bexar County who can explain the charges you face and then work hard to fight the charges.
The Parent Law Firm may be able to help you avoid a criminal trial and negotiate a reduction or dismissal of the charges, or a deferred adjudication, which is similar to probation, but is not considered a conviction under Texas law. Dave Parent will take a case to trial if necessary and will fight against a conviction. He will also fight to retain your driving privileges and your academic standing.
Call The Parent Law Firm today at 210-819-4111 to schedule your free initial consultation.