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Educators

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges are no laughing matter and can lead to serious penalties. Furthermore, if you are a licensed educator you may face additional career-related consequences. The Texas Education Agency follows rules set forth by the State Board for Educator Certification that state an educator can have their licenses suspended or revoked for a criminal conviction.

If you’ve been convicted of a DWI you may be forced to pay large fees and face possible incarceration. Unfortunately, if you’re a teacher or have a career in education your job may be on the line. The Texas Education Agency may place restrictions, suspend, or even revoke your license.

If you or someone you know has been charged or convicted with a DWI, it’s vital that you seek an experienced criminal defense attorney. 

DWI Attorney for Educators in Harris County, Texas

A DWI conviction can lead to more than jail or prison time. If you’re a licensed educator, you may be subject to disciplinary action by the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC). You could have to pay administrative fees, have additional restrictions, or have your license suspended or revoked. It’s time to act now and preserve your career with Horak Law. 

Attorney Matthew Horak is practiced at defending educators in disciplinary board proceedings. He understands not only the rules set forth by SBEC but also the Texas Occupational Code. Start your defense now with Matthew Horak to save your livelihood today.

Horak Law practices law throughout the greater Houston metropolitan area and surrounding communities including West University Place, Missouri City, and Bellaire.

Call now at (713) 225-8000 to schedule a free consultation today.

Overview of DWI Consequences for Educators in Texas


Consequences for Educators with a DWI

The State Board for Educator Certification uses a set of agency rules known as the Texas Education Code (TEC) to determine and penalize rule violations. Rule §249.15 states an educator who does any of the following may have their license suspended, revoked, or restricted.

  • Any felony offense;
  • A criminal offense that occurred in-part or wholly on school property or at a school-sponsored activity; or
  • An offense that relates directly to the duties and responsibilities of the education profession.

Determining if a crime directly relates to the education profession can be tricky. SBAC uses the following factors to evaluate if a DWI conviction or indictment is relevant to teaching and education. 

  • A minor or student was involved in the DWI;
  • The DWI was occurred on or partly on school property or a school-sponsored activity;
  • The DWI involved felony possession or conspiracy to possess a controlled substance;
  • The DWI involved the transfer, distribution or sale of a controlled substance; or
  • It was a felony-level DWI.

If the SBAC finds you in violation of TAC rules, they can do any of the following:

  • Put restrictions on your certificate’s issuance, renewal or holding;
  • Issue a non-inscribed or inscribed reprimand;
  • Suspend your certificate for a period of time;
  • Place your certificate on probation for a period of time;
  • Revoke your certification without opportunity for reapplication; or
  • Implement additional restrictions or conditions on your certificate.

Disciplinary Proceedings for a Teacher Convicted of a DWI

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) presides over the disciplinary hearings for educators. During the proceedings an administrative law judge (ALJ) will interpret the law and meeting and the board will determine the final decision.

In a disciplinary action meeting, the board will give you a chance to present your evidence. You will have a chance to employ legal representation and fight for your right to retain your certification. The State Board for Educator Certification will deliberate and vote on a final decision once all the evidence is presented. The board only needs the majority for a final order to be deemed valid. 

When deliberating, the SBEC uses the following factors outlined in rule §249.17 to determine if disciplinary action is necessary for a DWI conviction or not.

  • How serious the crime is;
  • If the DWI was premeditated or intentional;
  • If the educator tried to conceal the misconduct;
  • Any prior SBEC sanctions or attempted misconduct;
  • The potential danger the educator’s conduct poses to the welfare of students;
  • The effect the DWI had on any victims (such as victims from a DWI-related accident);
  • If sufficient evidence and time has passed to show that the educator or applicant has been rehabilitated;
  • If the DWI effects the educator’s moral character and ability to be a role model;
  • Whether the sanction will deter future violators; and
  • Any other relevant information.

Can I Still Be a Teacher with a DWI?

The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) cannot just discipline certified educators but also aspiring teachers. The Texas Education Code (TEC) states that SBEC can deny an applicant a certificate or bar a person from taking a certification exam if they have a criminal history. 

Rule §249.16 states if an applicant has a criminal history that directly relate to the duties and purpose of the education profession, he or she may be denied from certification. Basically, this means that deliberating disciplinary action can be vague and is given on a case-by-case basis.

However, the SBEC does use some factors to help determine if a DWI directly relates or not. Some factors SBEC uses to deliberate include, but are not limited to:

  • If the DWI involved felony possession or conspiracy to possess a controlled substance;
  • If the DWI involved the transfer, sale, distribution or conspiracy to do any of the following of a controlled substance;
  • If the DWI occurred in part on wholly on school property or a school-sponsored activity;
  • If the DWI involved school property or funds; or
  • If the DWI was felony-level.

Once the SBEC is done deliberating, they will notify the applicant in writing if they chose to seek disciplinary action or not. Don’t worry though hope isn’t lost. Applicants who are denied from certification may file for an appeal hearing. You then have the opportunity to gain trusted legal representation, collect evidence, and be heard in front of the board.


Statutory Penalties for a DWI

Sadly, if you’ve been convicted of DWI, you will also have to face statutory penalties. The penalties are dependent on the number of prior DWI convictions. The following chart outlines the potential penalties if you are convicted for a DWI.

 

Number of Offenses:

Offense Level:

Jail/Prison Time:

Fine:

 First Offense

 Class B Misdemeanor

Minimum of 72 hours in jail; maximum of 180 days in jail

 $2,000

 Second Offense

 Class A Misdemeanor

 Minimum of 30 days in jail; maximum of 12 months in jail.

 $4,000

 Third Offense

 Third-Degree Felony

 Minimum of 2 years in prison; maximum of 10 years in prison.

 $10,000

 

The majority of DWI convictions have more than just statutory penalties. The court may impose additional penalties to ensure the safety of the general public. These potential conditions include: 

  • Drug and alcohol evaluations;
  • If applicable, participation and completion of a court-ordered program;
  • Required installation of an ignition interlock device (IID);
  • Community service hours; and
  • Texas Department of Public Safety annual surcharges. 

Additional Resources

 Texas State Board of Education Rules – Visit the official website for the Texas Education Agency and gain access to the Texas Administrative Code (TAC). Find more information surrounding the educator’s code of ethics, how disciplinary proceedings go, and prehearing or post-hearing matters. 

Texas Education Agency – Visit the official website for the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and find more information on education certification. Gain access to accountability ratings, SBEC rules, parent resources, administrator resources, and more.


Lawyer for Teachers Convicted of a DWI in Harris County, Texas

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI and is a certified educator, it’s vital that you act now. The State Board for Educator Certification can restrict, suspend, or revoke your license for certain criminal offenses. Call Matthew Horak and sort out your career-related consequences today.

Matthew Horak is a distinguished attorney with a strong focus in criminal defense. He is passionate about helping educators retain their certifications. Start the steps to protecting your livelihood with Matthew Horak.

Call Matthew Horak at (713) 225-8000 today for a free consultation. Horak Law practices law throughout the greater Harris County area and surrounding counties including Fort Bend County, Liberty County, Galveston County, and Waller County.


This article was last updated on November 27, 2018.

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