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Out-of-State Drivers and Houston DWI

Texas has always been a hub for domestic and international travel. When you are traveling, you must follow the laws of the location you’re visiting. Otherwise, you may run into difficult legal situations. If you are an out-of-state driver who was charged with a DWI in Texas, you are probably wondering how this affects your time in Texas and your license back home. You might also be worried about how you will handle a case going on in Texas when you have to head back to your state. Contact the Houston criminal defense attorneys with The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 for answers to your questions.

Texas DWI Law

Driving under the influence (DUI) is commonly referred to in Texas as driving while intoxicated (DWI). If you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher while operating a motor vehicle, you may be arrested for a DWI. Commercial drivers with a BAC over 0.04 percent are over the limit. If you are under the legal drinking age, any amount of alcohol in your system while you drive can result in a DUI charge.

No matter your age or your BAC, you can be charged with a DWI if an officer finds you to be too impaired to drive. Impairment can come from controlled substances, prescription medications, or a combination of drugs and alcohol.

Additionally, this offense does not take into account your home state or where your license was issued. You can be charged with a DWI whether you have a Texas license or you road tripped into the state. No matter where you are from, all Texas laws apply to you while you are within the state.

Penalties for a DWI

A first DWI is generally a misdemeanor unless there are other factors to be considered. Penalties include:

  • Three to 180 days incarceration
  • Up to a $2,000 fine
  • Driver’s license suspension from 90 days to 1 year
  • $1,000 annual surcharge for 3 years to keep your driver’s license

However, if you are charged with a DWI and had a BAC above 0.15 percent, then you face harsher penalties, including:

  • Up to 1 year incarceration
  • Up to a $4,000 fine
  • Driver’s license suspension up to 1 year
  • Installation of ignition interlock device for 1 year after suspension
  • $2,000 annual surcharge for 3 years to keep your driver’s license

A multiple DWI also brings with it additional penalties, including higher fines, more time in jail, longer driver’s license suspension, the ignition interlock device, and a permanent criminal record.

What if I’m From Out of State?

It is important to understand that a DWI in Texas can affect your driving record and freedom in your home state. Texas is just one state involved in a Driver’s License Compact. More than 40 states and Washington D.C. have agreed to inform each other of traffic offenses and license suspensions for out-of-state drivers.

The Driver’s License Compact generally does not involve reporting of non-moving violations, but offenses like speeding and DWI are reported. Because of this interstate agreement, Texas may inform your home state of a DWI conviction and the penalties. The punishment you received in Texas may be doled out back home. If you were fined and given a license suspension, you must pay the fine and may have your license suspended in your home state.

The Nonresident Violator Compact may also apply to you. Under this agreement, states notify one another if an out-of-state person does not pay a fine. If you are convicted of a DWI but do not pay the Texas fines, Texas may inform your home state, which could then start proceedings against you. Not paying fines could lead to a license suspension in some states.

Much of this will depend on whether your state is also part of the Driver’s License Compact or Nonresident Violator Compact. If you aren’t sure, contact a Houston DWI attorneys with The Law Offices of Ned Barnett for more information on how Texas and your state may work together regarding this offense and the potential penalties.

How do I Handle Texas Court Dates?

If you were charged with a DWI in Texas, but then needed to return home, you now face the issue of having court dates scheduled in another state. This could be a significant financial and time burden. In some cases, you may have to travel back to Texas for the hearing. However, this isn’t always true. Your attorney can often appear on your behalf.

Ned Barnett is experienced in representing out-of-state individuals who are unable to come to all DWI court dates. He can be trusted to fight for your rights and best interests with the prosecutor and judge.

A Houston DWI Defense Attorney Can Help

Whether or not you are from Texas or another state, the most important factor in facing a DWI charge is working with an experienced attorney who knows how to defend you in court. Ned Barnett understands how difficult it can be to fight a Texas DWI once you are back home, which is why he offers out-of-state drivers 30 years of prosecution and criminal defense experience. Not only is he board certified in criminal law, he is also certified in DWI field sobriety testing, the operation of breathalyzer machines, and the basis of how blood alcohol tests work.

For more information on how Ned Barnett can help you, call (713) 222-6767 for a free consultation.