It’s never a good idea to decide to drive after you’ve been drinking. Between public transportation, taxis and the ubiquity of app-based driving services like Lyft, you always have another way to get home.

However, if you’re facing a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense, you deserve adequate representation and presumption of innocence until proven guilty. There is a strong cultural bias in our nation that makes people think anyone charged with a DWI must be guilty. Roadside sobriety tests fail. Officers sometimes make mistakes in judgment, mistaking nervousness for drunkenness.

If DWI charges are threatening your social and financial comfort, you should take immediate steps to protect yourself and your future.

Penalties for DWI offenses are steep

The state of Texas uses penalties as a means of deterring impaired driving. Your first offense carries fewer consequences than subsequent offenses. If you fail a field sobriety test or have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more, you will likely face charges. First time offenders could receive a $2,000 fine, between 3 and 180 days in jail, loss of their license for up to a year and a driver’s responsibility fee once their get their driver’s license back.

Your second offense could result in a fine of as much as $4,000, between a month and a year of jail, the loss of your license for up to two years, and a driver’s responsibility fee afterward. Third offenses carry a $10,000 fine, two to ten years in prison, and loss of your license for up to two years, along with that driver’s responsibility fee. If you’re convicted or plead guilty to two or more DWI offenses in less than five years, the courts will require you to pay for the installation of an ignition interlock device meant to check your blood alcohol content before you can even start your car.

An attorney can help you minimize the damage of a DWI

Without an attorney, you may struggle to protect yourself after a DWI. Even if you refuse to take a Breathalyzer test, you could still face the loss of your license. That’s due to implied consent, the legal concept that you agreed to potential drug and alcohol testing when you received your license. An attorney can help you if you refused a blood or breath test. Your attorney can request a hearing to challenge your license suspension. Having someone who understands the process to advocate for you can make all the difference.

An experienced attorney can review the details of your case and possibly challenge the stop or the performance of the field sobriety test. Before you plead guilty or speak with law enforcement, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands DWI laws in Texas.