Do Immediate License Suspensions After DWI in Texas Really Work?

Suspending a DWI offender’s license after a DWI conviction seems like a good tool to prevent future DWIs and punish the drunk driver. But some Texas judges and prosecutors are now questioning the wisdom of license suspension as a DWI deterrent, according to reports in The Statesman and KVUE. Years ago, Texas lawmakers enacted tougher DWI laws that included a provision to allow police officers to seize the licenses of drivers who failed a breath test or refused to take a breath test to determine the presence of alcohol.

Immediate seizure of a driver’s license after test refusal or failure should prevent drivers from getting DWIs. But apparently, the law is not as effective as it would seem. For one thing, drivers who have lost their licenses can apply for, and usually obtain, an occupational license with little pushback by judges. The state bears the burden of costs of administrative appeals as drivers seek the return of their licenses. Additionally, evidence brought forth or withheld in the administrative matter can damage the criminal DWI case. For these reasons and others, some prosecutors are calling for reconsideration of the immediate license seizure provision.

Defense lawyers also argue that for some drivers, like habitual drinkers, the threat of an immediate license suspension is not a deterrent in the face of active addiction to alcohol. Others argue that immediate license suspension is too punitive: the driver has not yet been convicted of any crime and others who depend on the driver usually suffer most after an immediate driver’s license suspension.

For now, no changes to Texas’ DWI laws are under consideration. Drivers who fail or refuse breath tests still face immediate license seizure. If you have failed or refused a breath test or you face DWI charges, contact a Texas criminal defense attorney for help to protect your license and fight the related criminal charges.