The Collateral Consequences of a DWI Conviction
The flashing blue lights illuminate your rearview mirror, and you know you’re probably over the legal limit. Your mind races to thoughts of spending the night in jail and how you are going to explain your DWI arrest to your family and employer.
After you’re released from jail, you think about the wild night you had, along with a possible trial and attorney’s fees. You really don’t want to spend any more time in jail than you just spent. Soon enough, though, you start to consider the long-term effects of a DWI conviction. These lingering effects—those that continue even after you’ve done your time and paid all the fees—are referred to as “collateral consequences,” which is what we will look at in this blog.
Effects on Professional Licensing
Millions of Texans hold jobs that require professional licenses. From auctioneers to realtors and nearly any medical professional, these workers depend on their licensure to generate income. Professional licensees, though, are almost always required to notify the agency responsible for their license of DWI convictions.
Depending on your line of work and the severity of the charges (misdemeanor or felony), you could get your occupational license suspended or revoked. Doctors, nurses, teachers, and commercial pilots are especially at risk of losing their professional licenses due to DWI. After working so hard to build your career and reputation, you need the help of an effective and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to protect your livelihood.
Driver’s License Suspension
Not only will you lose your driver’s license privileges for a period of time after a conviction, but you may lose your driver’s license privileges while you are waiting on your case to reach its conclusion, unless you quickly retain an attorney who can work to get you a limited license to use to get to and from work, school, and other essential places. For repeat DWI offenses, your driver’s license could be suspended for as long as two years.
Other Collateral Consequences
Even if you don’t require a professional license to work, prospective employers will probably run a background check on you. Except in rare circumstances, your DWI conviction will show up on these background checks. Your current employer might also decide to let you go—especially if your job requires a valid driver’s license. You may also have to deal with:
- Your ex-spouse using your DWI conviction against you in family court
- Issues securing housing or student loans
- Loss of your security clearance
- Loss of voting rights (if you were convicted of felony DWI)
- Loss of gun ownership rights (again, if your DWI conviction is classified as a felony)
You know that a DWI conviction carries severe penalties, but many who are charged with this crime are not aware of the potentially lifelong collateral consequences. If you have recently been arrested for DWI, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer as soon as you are able. Our client-centered practice is focused on navigating your criminal case to its best possible conclusion. Call 833-553-4521 today to discuss your options.