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Law Enforcement

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges can put your life on hold, but if you’re in law enforcement, it can halt your career. The Texas Commission of Law Enforcement (TLOE) may consider a DWI conviction grounds for disciplinary action. Texas Administrative Code (TAC) states that a person may have their license suspended or revoked if the DWI relates directly to the duties of the law enforcement profession.

DWI charges can be life changing, especially for a police officer. It’s possible that you could face statutory penalties such as fines and potential incarceration. Additionally, TLOE isn’t kind to officers who commit criminal offenses. You may be suspended or lose your badge entirely. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI and is in law enforcement, it’s important that you contact skilled legal representation.

DWI Attorney for Police Officers in Harris County, Texas

The logistics of court can be overwhelming enough without the added fear of career-related consequences. Those who work in law enforcement charged with a DWI must have a strong defense. You could lose not only your freedom, but also your career. Any police officer charged or convicted of a DWI should contact Matthew Horak at Horak Law. 

Attorney Matthew Horak has handled both DWI court proceedings and TLOE disciplinary hearings. With his resources, knowledge and skills Matthew Horak can create a strong defense for you. Call Horak Law at (713) 225-8000 and schedule a free consultation today. 

Horak Law accepts clients throughout the greater Harris County area and surrounding counties including Liberty County, Waller County, Montgomery County, and Galveston County.

Overview of DWI Consequences for Police Officers in Texas  


Consequences for Texas Police Officers Convicted of a DWI

Being charged with a DWI as a police officer can be devastating. Your reputation may be tarnished, you may have to juggle statutory penalties, and your career could be on the line. Police officers who are convicted with a DWI could lose their livelihood and freedom.

Texas Occupations Code § 1701.501 states that the TLOE has can suspend or revoke your license if your DWI involves any of the following factors:

  • The DWI was felony-level; or
  • The DWI directly reflected your duties as an officer.

In addition to license suspension or revocation, you may be forced to pay administrative penalties. The administrative penalty cannot exceed $1,000 per day per violation. The cost of an administrative penalty is based on: 

  • Your violation history
  • The seriousness of the DWI;
  • The amount necessary for you to deter future violations;
  • Any and all efforts you made to correct the DWI; and
  • Any other important information the justice may require. 

Suspension Terms for Law Enforcement Convicted of a DWI

In a disciplinary hearing by TLOE you may have your license suspended for a period of time. TLOE determines the length of suspension by the degree of the offense committed. The following chart outlines the suspension terms for officers convicted of a DWI.

 

DWI Offense:

Degree of Offense:

Suspension Term:

 First Offense

 Class B Misdemeanor

 60 Days

 Second Offense

 Class A Misdemeanor

 120 Days

 Third Offense

Third-Degree Felony (Placed on community supervision)

 30 Years

 

In addition, those in law enforcement placed on community supervision for a DWI that isn’t a felony may have their license suspended for up to 10 years. The commission uses several factors to determine the term of suspension including: 

  • The seriousness of the DWI;
  • The mental state of the police officer during the DWI;
  • If the offense included coercion or threats of bodily injury;
  • The police officer’s violation history;
  • The police officer’s level of danger to the general public;
  • Any aggravating evidence existing in the DWI; and
  • Evidence used to rebuttal mitigating factors. 

Probated Suspension Terms for Texas Police Officers

In some cases, you may still be able to use your license to a certain degree. TLOE states that a suspension term can be probated if there is proof of mitigating factors. The mitigating factors the TLOE uses to determine if probation is necessary includes: 

  • The police officer has a history of compliance with the rules of court-ordered community supervision;
  • The police officer has continued rehabilitative efforts not required by the terms and conditions of court-ordered community supervision;
  • The police officer’s post-arrest employment record; and
  • The non-court ordered restitution amount and type.

If you’re successful in negotiating probation at a commission hearing, TLOE will impose some on your probated license. The following are a few required factors that may be implemented in your probated suspension: 

  • Specific reporting conditions;
  • Employment requirements;
  • Specific document submission conditions;
  • Required voluntary duty; or
  • Any other reasonable term imposed by the commission.

Another commission rule violation will result in your probation being revoked. Hiring an experienced attorney can be incredibly beneficial when advocating for probation. A criminal defense attorney can provide evidence that proves you’re in compliance with the TLOE and advocate for a probated suspension term. 


License Revocation of a Police Officer for a DWI

The most severe career-related consequence you might face during a disciplinary hearing is the revocation of your license. Rule §223.19 of Texas Administrative Code states that if an offense such as a DWI directly relates to a police officer’s duties, he or she may have their license revoked.

TLOE uses the following factors to determine if a DWI relates directly to the duties of law.

  • How serious the DWI is;
  • The relationship of the DWI with the duties and responsibilities of law enforcement;
  • If the police officer’s license gives him or her more opportunities to engage in further criminal activity of the same caliber; and
  • The relationship of the DWI to the capacity, ability, or fitness required to perform the duties and discharges of a law enforcement officer.

TLOE also states that if a police officer is convicted of a felony their license will immediately be revoked. Meaning if you have a felony-level DWI you’ve just lost your whole career. Revocation permanently bars you from pursuing any future licensing or certification by TLOE.

A revoked license can be reinstated. Having the assistance of a skilled attorney can give you the edge needed to fight TLOE disciplinary actions. A practiced attorney can present several proofs of facts to support the negation of your revocation.


Statutory Penalties for a DWI

Although TLOE disciplinary actions can affect your career, statutory penalties can jeopardize freedom. Texas law states that a person convicted of a DWI may be required to pay large fines and serve time in jail or prison. The following chart outlines the DWI penalties in Texas.

 

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

 

DWI sentencings almost always includes additional conditions. The following are some potential legal consequences for a DWI conviction.   

  • Suspended driver’s license;
  • Required community service;
  • Drug and alcohol evaluation;
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device;
  • Completion of a court-ordered program; or
  • Texas Department of Public Safety surcharges. 

Additional Resources

TLOE | Commission Rules – Visit the official website for the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement and find more information detailing the current rules for police officers. Gain access to commission rules, the Rules Handbook, and additional resources for law enforcement.

Texas Police Officer Laws – Visit the official website for the Texas Occupational Code, a collection of state laws concerning law enforcement. Find more information about other licensing violations, criminal penalties for uncertified law enforcement personnel, and the disciplinary appeals process. 


Lawyer for Law Enforcement Convicted of a DWI in Houston, Texas

If you or someone you know has been charged or convicted with a DWI, it’s imperative that you gain legal representation now. The Texas Commission of Law Enforcement may consider your DWI as a violation of commission rules. You could be facing license suspension or revocation in addition to statutory penalties.

Matthew Horak is an accomplished attorney with a strong focus in criminal defense. He understands how serious a criminal conviction is for a police officer. Horak Law has defended numerous law enforcement personnel in TLOE disciplinary hearings using his experience and resources. Call now at (713) 225-8000 and schedule a free consultation. 

Horak Law accepts clients throughout the greater Harris County area and surrounding communities including Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, and Liberty County.


This article was last updated on November 27, 2018.

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