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Those facing a first-offense DWI may benefit from a change in law

Everyone makes mistakes. One that some Texas drivers make is driving while intoxicated, and many feel that mistake should not necessarily negatively impact their lives. The Texas legislature appeared to agree that certain individuals deserve a second chance and changed the laws by adding a provision that could benefit those facing a first-offense DWI.

Texas drivers whose blood alcohol content does not reach or exceed .15, do not have a commercial learner's permit or do not have a commercial driver's license endorsement could take advantage of the new law, which went into effect on Sept. 1. A judge may defer the guilty verdict and the sentence of a first-time offender if he or she successfully uses an ignition interlock device for a specified period. After the period expires, the judge may dismiss the charges, which allows the driver to avoid a conviction going on his or her record.

The ignition interlock device prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver's breath alcohol content level registers alcohol in the driver's body. Any violations could nullify the deferment and reinstate the conviction and sentence. Moreover, if a driver who previously completed the program successfully is then arrested on suspicion of a second DWI, the courts will treat him or her as a repeat offender, which could mean more severe penalties if a conviction is secured.

Texas residents facing a first-offense DWI after Sept. 1 and meet the minimum criteria could benefit greatly from this new law. Nothing is guaranteed, however. In order to help ensure that the best possible resolution of the charges is achieved, enlisting the advice and assistance of a criminal defense attorney would be wise.

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