One of the possible sanctions imposed in a DWI case is the driver’s license suspension. How long the suspension period lasts depends on your particular situation. Still, being without a driver’s license for any length of time can cause hardships, as you might not be able to get to work or take care of essential tasks.
Because you need to provide for yourself or your family, you might be tempted to drive even though you don’t have driving privileges. But know that operating a vehicle on a suspended license after a DWI is a crime. You could face additional penalties and a possible extension of the suspension period for doing so.
What Causes Your Driver’s License to Be Suspended in a Texas DWI?
There are two ways your driver’s license could be suspended in a DWI matter. First is the administrative suspension, which can happen automatically after your DWI arrest.
You may be subject to an administrative driver’s license suspension for a chemical test refusal or failure. A chemical test refusal occurs when the arresting officer directs you to submit a blood or breath sample for analysis. If you do not provide a specimen, the officer will immediately take your license, issue a notice of suspension, and give you a temporary driving permit.
A chemical test failure is when you provide a blood or breath specimen and the analysis reveals that you have an unlawful alcohol concentration. For drivers 21 years of age or over, an unlawful alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher. For drivers under 21 years of age, having any alcohol in their system is unlawful.
Whether your license is suspended for a chemical test refusal or failure, you can challenge the action by requesting an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days of receiving a notice of suspension or revocation.
At issue during the ALR hearing is:
- Whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop or arrest you,
- Whether the officer had probable cause to believe that you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and
- Whether you refused or failed the chemical test.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will determine whether administrative suspension of your driver’s license is warranted.
If the DPS does not rule in your favor, your driver’s license may be suspended as follows:
- Chemical test refusal: At least 180 days
- Chemical test failure (21 years of age and older): At least 90 days
- Chemical test failure (under 21 years of age): At least 60 days
The other way your driver’s license could be suspended in a DWI matter is if you are found guilty of driving while intoxicated. Upon a DWI conviction, you may be subject to a driver’s license suspension for 90 days to 1 year, provided this is your first violation. The suspension period begins 30 days after your conviction.
What If I Need to Drive During the Suspension Period?
Having your driver’s license suspended means you are not allowed to operate a vehicle. Even if you really need to go somewhere, you can’t. You might either need to rely on public transportation or the kindness of others to get around.
Yet, you do have another option. You can seek to restore driving privileges by getting a restricted license.
Depending on your case, you may be eligible to drive if you have an ignition interlock device installed (IID) on your vehicle. The court may approve this option, which would allow you to operate a vehicle during the suspension period as long as the car is equipped with an IID.
You might also be able to drive in a limited capacity during the suspension period if you apply for and are granted an occupational license. The occupational license allows restricted driving privileges to get to and from work or take care of essential needs. Note, though, that you can’t get an occupational license if your driving privileges were previously suspended because of an intoxication-related offense.
If you are granted restricted driving privileges but operate a vehicle in violation of any of the restrictions, you could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. A conviction will result in revoking the occupational or IID license, restoring the initial suspension, and up to 180 days in jail.
What Are the Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License?
Whether your driver’s license was suspended through administrative or criminal proceedings, operating a vehicle during the suspension period (without a restricted license) is a crime called driving while license invalid (Texas Transportation Code § 521.457).
For a first offense, driving while license invalid (DWLI) is a Class C misdemeanor. Although this classification of crime does not carry a term of incarceration, it is punishable by a fine of up to $500. Your driver’s license suspension period may also be extended.
If you have a prior DWLI conviction, you could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. Conviction penalties for a second violation include up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Call Deandra Grant Law for DWI Defense
If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated in Dallas, our team can represent you through your administrative and criminal proceedings. We have extensive experience fighting charges and managing partner Deandra Grant has undergone hundreds of hours of training for DWI defense.
Schedule a consultation with us by calling (214) 225-7117 or submitting an online contact form today.