With a DWI second offense ineligible for expungement or nondisclosure in Texas, being convicted will impact your life far beyond a jail sentence and probation. The consequences of a second DWI on your criminal record are far-reaching and never go away, making it crucial to fight your charges in court with an experienced attorney. Here’s what to expect if your criminal record is impacted by a DWI second offense in Texas and some ways an attorney may be able to help you.
Impacts of a Criminal Record:
Despite being classified as a misdemeanor, a DWI second offense is a major permanent mark on your criminal record, impacting everything from employment to education, housing, and parental guardianship.
Employment: When applying for jobs, many employers will ask whether you have been convicted of a crime and will conduct a background check before hiring you. For most competitive and high-paying jobs, having a DWI second offense on your record will disqualify you from candidacy, regardless of how good your resume is. While employment is a condition of parole, the jobs you will find out of jail are often low paying and provide little to no benefits or opportunities for advancement.
Being convicted of a DWI second offense is also a common cause for termination and, in Texas, will automatically prevent you from being a bus driver or trucker. After a second DWI conviction, your commercial driver’s license will be revoked, and you will be disqualified from applying for another for life.
Education: If you’ve been charged with a DWI second offense before your college admission, you’ll likely have difficulty applying to prestigious schools and big universities as most schools will avoid accepting someone with a misdemeanor conviction (let alone multiple) to protect their reputation. If you’re already enrolled in school and lucky enough not to be expelled after a second DWI offense, you’ll likely lose any scholarships you may have, as most include a code of conduct. Fortunately, a DWI second offense does not disqualify you from applying for any federal loans. However, you must fill out extra paperwork and be out of jail to apply.
Housing: Renters commonly conduct background checks and may refuse to rent to those convicted of a DWI second offense due to fears of unreliability. Homeowners Associations can also legally deny buyers their dream home due to a criminal record. Being convicted of an enhanced felony DWI second offense (such as a DWI with a child passenger) will also bar you from certain government benefits that may impact your making rent, such as SNAP and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Child Custody and Visitation: if you’re divorced or separated and convicted of a DWI second offense in Texas, your relationship with your child may be in jeopardy. In a custody battle, the court is likely to view someone with a second DWI conviction as alcohol dependent, which is certain to impact their custody or visitation rights negatively. Additionally, if your ex-spouse or ex-partner wants to modify your custody agreement, a second DWI conviction would allow them to do so, with the court likely ruling in their favor.
The Help of an Attorney:
Since a DWI second offense will remain on a criminal record forever, the best way to avoid the consequences of a criminal record is to hire a skilled attorney who will argue for your innocence or negotiate lesser charges. Here are a few defense tactics that a skilled DWI attorney may use when representing someone charged with a DWI second offense:
Reasonable Suspicion: If, at the time of your accident, you were abiding by all of the rules of the road and your vehicle is in order (no broken headlights or illegal tints), your traffic stop may be illegal.
Accuracy of a Breathalyzer: While breathalyzers are often used as evidence for a conviction, these devices are prone to a host of inaccuracies that a skilled DWI attorney may be able to challenge in court successfully.
Violations of Constitutional Rights: If an officer is overly aggressive, intimidating, or potentially violent during a traffic stop, your charges could be dropped altogether.