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January 2016 - Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law

Could I Lose My Job Over A DWI?

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Could I lose my job over a DWI?

If you are arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI), it is no surprise to most people that they immediately acquire a host of problems. However, in addition to the legal difficulties, it is not uncommon for employers to fire employees who have been charged with something most people see as reckless and rash. You should be aware that in Texas, it is not only possible, but legal, for an employer to terminate you if you are arrested for DWI, though you can only help your case by knowing the ins and outs of the relevant law.

Employment Law in Texas

Texas is what is referred to as an at-will employment state, which means that with certain exceptions, an employer may terminate an employee for any reason. An employee who has a contract of employment has some recourse, in that an employer may not wantonly violate explicit contract terms, but otherwise, the only grounds an employee has to contest termination is alleged discrimination.

Texas also recognizes what is referred to as the public policy exception: in other words, a person cannot be terminated or otherwise disciplined for refusing to commit an act that shocks the public conscience. For example, if a manager demanded that an employee perjure themselves in court on behalf of the company, the employee could not be fired for refusing.

Are You Likely To Be Terminated?

While Texas is an at-will state, there are some employers who will be more understanding than others, as one might expect. However, certain professions are often held to a higher standard, making it more likely that you will be disciplined or fired. Examples include:

Drivers or other transportation workers. It is not uncommon that those who drive for a living would find themselves looking for work after a DWI; an employer could reasonably conclude that employee was no longer trustworthy.
Teachers and other workers who occupy high-profile positions of responsibility. Law enforcement officials, especially high-ranking officials, would also fit this role.
Those who drive as a part of their job, such as traveling businessmen or postal workers. If a worker can no longer be trusted to do part of their job, it is reasonable to assume they would not be able to perform all the functions of their job.

Obviously, the only real way to know if you will face discipline or termination for a DWI is to know your employer, but if you are indeed let go, there are steps you can take to make getting a new job easier, such as seeking expungement of your record (if the facts permit).

An Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Assist You

The best way to safeguard your career prospects is to seek an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to help you through the DWI process while minimizing the damage. The dedicated Austin DWI lawyers at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford are ready, willing and able to share their knowledge with you. Contact our offices today to discuss your option.

Could The Police Officer Who Just Pulled Me Over For A DWI Have A DWI Himself?

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Could the police officer have a dwi?

If you are pulled over for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, there is a chance that the law enforcement officer pulling you over may have once been on the receiving end, especially if you live near Austin or Houston. While a DWI is a serious offense, it does not mean that you must give up your dream job if you are charged with one. This is even true in fields like law enforcement.

General Outcomes

In general, there are certain factors that are considered when a police officer is found to have driven while intoxicated. Many jurisdictions have zero tolerance policies, resulting in officers’ termination if they are convicted, especially for felony charges. However, those that do not immediately terminate officers consider several issues, including:

  • The severity of the incident. Was anyone harmed? Did property damage occur? A civilian would be charged with at least a second-degree felony under Texas law if they caused injury to another person, depending on the specifics; an officer may wind up charged with the same thing if the facts warrant it.
  • The officer’s previous driving record. Even if they do not have any other DWIs, an officer may have been previously cited for driving recklessly or too quickly; any previous discipline for driving or alcohol-related offenses would speak in favor of termination.
  • Whether or not the officer was on duty at the time of the incident. Drinking on duty is almost always grounds for termination, as it will violate the officer’s terms of employment, as well as possibly result in a loss of certification, as well. Off-duty drinking is obviously frowned upon, but would not necessarily result in instant termination.

Texas Specifics

If you have a dream to become a police officer, as opposed to being one already, the general rule is that you can still apply if you do not have a felony conviction on your record. However, certain departments have more specific rules. For example, the Austin Police Department lists a DUI or DWI conviction within the past 10 years as something that could potentially disqualify you from joining the force.

In Texas specifically, results vary in terms of encountering law enforcement officers who have been on the wrong side of a DWI charge. Dallas, most recently, demonstrated zero tolerance for such things – between 2006 and the present, more than 30 officers have been terminated for DWI and related offenses. However, departments such as Houston and Austin tend to be somewhat more forgiving, offering probation and suspension of licenses instead of immediate firing.

Seek The Help Of An Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer

If your heart is set on becoming a police officer, but you have a felony conviction, all is not lost. An experienced criminal law attorney may be able to help explain or expunge your conviction to the proper authorities – at the very least, more information can only help you. The knowledgeable Austin DWI lawyers at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford are happy to answer questions. Contact us at 512-476-4444 to schedule an appointment.

5 Things To Know If You Get A DWI

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5 things to know if you get a dwi

In this day and age, some people tend to regard driving while intoxicated as ‘not a big deal,’ especially if it happens in a rural area. This type of thinking is not only incorrect, it can be dangerous and can prove incredibly costly for you and your loved ones. Part of this thinking, however, may be because specific information about Texas DWI laws is often difficult to come by unless you know exactly what to look for. Here are some tips that can help you avoid a DWI or get through one more easily.

#1. Some DWIs will be misdemeanors, but many will qualify as felonies. Many people labor under the misapprehension that a DWI is always a misdemeanor unless someone is injured or killed. This is not the case – while injuring someone or killing them will almost certainly qualify as a felony, there are other reasons that a DWI would merit the harsher charge.

For example, Texas law holds that a DWI will classify as a third degree felony if someone has previously been convicted of a similar offense in another state. If you are charged with DWI while you have a child passenger in your car, it constitutes a state jail felony. These will happen regardless of other factors like how fast you might have been going.

#2. You will almost certainly have your license suspended. Texas law mandates the suspension of your license after a DWI conviction, though judges and juries are permitted to recommend that your license not be suspended. Generally, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) registers as over .08, or if you refuse to take the test, a suspension will result. You can appeal, but you may not win. If you are convicted in court, a suspension is automatic under Texas law.

#3. For a first offense, community service is an option, but it can come with many different caveats. Normally, a DWI carries a penalty of fines and at least three days in jail (or more, if you had an open container in your vehicle). However, judges and juries are able to sentence you to community service instead. Community service will keep you out of jail, but it will require you to jump through several hoops in order to remain there. For example, you may be made to be evaluated by an addiction counselor, to see if you require more help, or you may be required to allow an ignition interlock device to be put on your car for a certain period of time.

#4. Your car insurance rates will almost certainly rise, or you may even be dropped from your policy. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and it can be cost prohibitive to insure someone who drives while intoxicated. If you are convicted of DWI, especially if it happens more than once, you stand a good chance of being dropped by your insurance company.

#5. A DWI stays on your record for as long as seven years, and may stay longer. In Texas, employers are allowed to conduct background checks dating back up to seven years, and if you are applying for a job making more than $75,000, they may look even further back. A DWI can be the difference between hiring and being passed over.

An Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

Even knowing what to expect in a DWI proceeding cannot make the process much easier or less frightening. A knowledgeable Austin DWI attorney is your best bet, and the skilled Austin DWI lawyers at The Law Office Of Robert L. Buford are happy to talk with you about your case. Contact us today.