December 13, 2023
Like many other issues having to deal with legal procedures, warrants can be complex. Say you were in Texas visiting or have recently moved to another state, and during the time you were there, you were charged with a DWI.
Now, picture this: there’s a warrant out there for your arrest, but you’re no longer in Texas. So, can a Texas DWI warrant be served out of state?
The short answer is no. But the warrant will continue to be valid and you’ll be served as soon as you return to Texas.
What Is a Texas DWI Warrant?
Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 15.01, driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrest warrants give police the power to take anyone accused of a crime into custody. The warrant must identify the person to be arrested and the type of offense they’ve allegedly perpetrated.
In Texas, warrants don’t have a time limit. They continue to be valid until the criminal justice system contacts you or you with it.
Keep in mind that once the warrant is issued, Texas law enforcement officers have the right to arrest you at any place, at any time without notice. Hence, the best way to deal with an arrest warrant is to comply. This means going to the police station and identifying yourself.
After that, you’ll be asked to post a cash bond, which will remove the warrant. The amount of the bond will be listed on the warrant under ‘amount due.’
When it’s time for your case to go to court, make sure you retain a defense attorney with experience handling similar cases. They can find ways to disprove witness testimony or get circumstantial evidence overturned. If your lawyer can get the evidence suppressed, this means the prosecutor can’t use any of it against you. Thus, the charges get dropped and your DWI warrant gets dismissed.
What Is the Penalty for a DWI in Texas?
First-offense DWIs are categorized as Class B misdemeanors in Texas. It’s a more serious offense than its counterpart, DUI, which is classified in Texas as a Class C misdemeanor.
Here’s a quick look at the penalties you could be facing if convicted of a DWI. Keep in mind that the fines listed below don’t include a state fine, which typically ranges between $3,000 and $6,000, with the final amount being estimated after sentencing.
If this is your first offense or your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below 0.15, you could face anywhere between three to 180 days in jail as well as a fine of up to $2,000. Not only that, but you can also have your driver’s license suspended for up to a year.
If it’s your second offense, or your BAC level is 0.15 or higher, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 365 days in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
You could also be eligible for a 2-year probationary period, including up to 60 days in jail. During this time, the court may require you to do one or more of the following:
- Have your driver’s license suspended for up to 2 years
- Attend a DWI education course designed specifically for repeat offenders
- Complete up to 20 hours of community service
- Install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle
If you’ve been charged with a third DWI, you can be sentenced to anywhere between 2–10 years in prison upon conviction. The penalty will also include a $10,000 fine and having your driver’s license suspended for up to 2 years.
Can a Texas DWI Warrant Be Served Out of State?
Traveling or moving out of Texas doesn’t nullify your warrant. It simply inconveniences law authorities responsible for seeing that it gets served.
In other words, if you’re not a Texan resident and you’re charged with a DWI, your warrant will be issued in Texas where you’ll be arrested and tried in court. However, if you’re convicted, you’ll be required to serve your sentence in your home state.
Furthermore, if your state belongs to the Interstate Compact, your sentence will be determined by the courts in Texas, but the penalties will be carried out according to the laws in your home state. This is good news if your state laws are more lenient than those in Texas.
Yet, what if you move or travel out of state before being served your warrant?
According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 15.06, the jurisdiction of the Texas police ends at the state line. In other words, they can only serve warrants within the borders of their state.
Once you leave the state, Texas authorities are then obligated to enter your DWI warrant into the national database. This allows the police in all other states to be on the lookout for you and your vehicle.
The general rule is that police can’t arrest you based on a warrant issued in another state. They can, however, take you into custody in their state based on said warrant until one of three things happens: the charges are either dismissed, the prosecutor abandons the charges, or you’re required to return to Texas to have your case tried there.
These procedures differ from state to state. Some states will keep you in their custody until further notice, whereas others may not hold you purely based on a DWI warrant issued in Texas.
This means that by going out of state, you won’t be served your DWI warrant, thus slowing down the legal proceedings. But, it won’t throw out your charges. Your warrant will remain pending indefinitely.
Then, if you’re ever back in Texas, you’ll be immediately served with the warrant and arrested. The alternative is that you decide to take matters into your own hands and head to the police station and deal with your warrant head-on.
As you can see, the State of Texas takes DWIs very seriously. So much so that even if a DWI warrant was issued in Texas, it remains valid until it’s properly dealt with and all procedures have been completed.
This also applies even if you go out of state.
If you’ve been served a DWI warrant, the first thing you must do is retain an experienced attorney who can advise the best defense.
Contact the law offices of George Napier via text message, online chat, or call at (713) 470-4097 for a free consultation.