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What Happens if I Get an Out-of-State DWI in Texas?

Drunk driving concept showing a gavel with a glass of liquor and car keys.

Make sure you have a DWI attorney who can protect your rights.

Driving while intoxicated, by its nature, is a crime that sometimes crosses state lines. If you live in another state and were charged with DWI in Texas, you may be wondering whether the process is different.

The short answer is that the process is mostly the same. While DWI laws vary from state to state, driving while intoxicated is a crime everywhere, and there is a great deal of overlap between state laws. Moreover, a DWI charge in one state will absolutely follow you around in other states. However, there are some differences in the legal process, and an experienced Texas DWI lawyer can help you navigate those differences.

Does an out-of-state DWI count as a previous charge for enhancement purposes?

As you may know, a key factor in the penalties you face for a DWI conviction is the number of previous convictions on your record. The penalties for a second DWI offense are significantly harsher than the penalties for a first offense, and the penalties for a third or subsequent offense are harsher still.

If you're wondering whether an out-of-state DWI counts as a previous offense for these purposes, the answer is yes. Note that an out-of-state charge may be called something different, such as DUI (driving under the influence), OUI (operating under the influence), or OWI (operating while intoxicated), but as far as Texas penalties for a second or subsequent DWI offense are concerned, they all count. So, if you have a previous DWI, DUI, OUI, OWI, or similar conviction in your home state, you are likely looking at enhanced penalties under Texas law, even if it's your first DWI in Texas.

Likewise, a DWI conviction in Texas will most likely count as a previous offense for enhancement purposes in your home state, although of course, these laws vary from state to state.

Can Texas suspend an out-of-state driver's license?

The State of Texas does not have the authority to suspend or revoke a driver's license issued by another state. So if you are licensed in another state and get a DWI in Texas, then you are not subject to the license suspension or revocation penalties that Texas typically applies in DWI cases.

However, like nearly all U.S. states, Texas is part of the Driver's License Compact (DLC), which means it shares DWI information with other states. So, if your home state normally suspends driver's licenses for DWI or equivalent arrests or convictions, then your driver's license will very likely be suspended by your home state after a DWI arrest or conviction in Texas (unless you live in one of the few states that are not in the DLC).

The same generally applies to any associated points, insurance surcharges, or other administrative penalties, although how those penalties are applied to out-of-state offenses varies from state to state.

In addition, a DWI in Texas will be added to the National Driver Registry, which any state can access. A future application for a driver's license in your current state or another state may be held up based on the information in this registry.

Why you need a Texas attorney to fight a Texas DWI charge

If you were arrested for DWI in Texas, it's especially important that you hire a local Texas attorney to handle your defense. A local attorney who knows the law, the courts, the judges, and the juries will be best positioned to help you fight the charges and protect your rights.

From a logistical perspective, hiring a local attorney also means we can handle matters in Texas on your behalf while you return home. In many cases, we are able to resolve a DWI charge for an out-of-state client without any need for you to return to Texas for hearings or other proceedings.

We can move your case forward with remote consultations, conference calls, overnight delivery of documents, and so on.

Remember, the legal process for DWI in Texas moves fast, and the sooner you hire an attorney, the better. If you are facing DWI charges in Texas as an out-of-state driver, contact Amanda Webb — DWI Lawyer as soon as possible for a free consultation.