Penalties for DWI in Texas
The criminal & administrative penalties for a DWI in Texas are substantial. Additionally, a prosecutor only needs to prove one of the following:
- You lacked the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more substances, or any other substance in the body; or
- You had a breath or blood alcohol concentration that exceeds the legal limit of .08 percent
In other words, you can be convicted for driving while intoxicated with a BAC below .08 or without giving a breath sample at all.
This is why it is so important to hire an experienced DWI attorney like Clyde Burleson to walk you through the entire DWI legal process and provide you with the best options for your DWI defense. In many cases, charges can be dismissed, qualified for pre-trial intervention or given deferred adjudication. Above all, the cost of a DWI lawyer is always worth it.
DWI – First Offense
A first DWI conviction is a Class B misdemeanor. A conviction carries a maximum fine of $3,000, a jail sentence up to 180 days and a license suspension up to 1 year. This elevates to a Class A misdemeanor with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or greater, so fines and jail time increase to $6,000 and 1 year. In addition, you will be required to install an ignition interlock on your car.
DWI – Second Offense
A second DWI conviction is a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction carries a maximum fine of $4,500, a jail sentence up to 1 year license suspension up to 2 years.
DWI – Third Offense
A third DWI conviction is a 3rd degree felony. A conviction carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and a license suspension up to 2 years. However, as a felony, imprisonment is in the federal state penitentiary rather than a county jail and also disqualifies the violator from voting and possessing a firearm.
DWI – Fourth Offense
You will receive a $20,000 fine & 20 years of imprisonment in the federal penitentiary system.
DWI with Accident – Intoxication Assault
DWI with an accident where serious bodily injury occurred as a proximate cause of the intoxication is called Intoxication Assault and it is a 3rd degree felony. Consequently, you will serve up to 10 years the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. You will pay a fine of $10,000 and lose your license for 2 years. The intoxication assault conviction may be raised to a 2nd degree felony under Section 49.09 if it resulted in serious bodily injury to a peace officer, a firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel.
DWI with Death – Intoxication Manslaughter
DWI where a death has occurred as a proximate cause of the intoxication is a second degree felony called Intoxication Manslaughter. As a result, you will pay $10,000 and face 20 years in prison. The intoxication manslaughter conviction may be raised to a 1st degree felony under Section 49.09 if it resulted in serious bodily injury to a peace officer, a firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel.
DWI with Child Passenger
A person commits a State jail felony if driving while intoxicated with a person under 15 years of age in the vehicle. Punishment for a non-enhanced State jail felony is by confinement in a State jail for any term of not more than 2 years or less than 180 days and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
DWI with Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
A first-time DWI with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term of up to 180 days, a fine up to $3,000 and suspension of your CDL for up to one year. However, if you were transferring hazardous materials, you could lose your CDL for up to three years. Moreover, a second offense could take away your CDL for life.
Drag Racing with Prior DWI Conviction
A prior DWI conviction and a present drag-racing charge: Drag racing is a Class B Misdemeanor, however, it becomes a Class A Misdemeanor where the person had a prior drag-racing conviction, a DWI conviction, or while driving with an open alcohol container.
Is Probation an Alternative to DWI Penalties?
In some of the above minor classifications, you may be eligible for probation. However, there is no guarantee that you will receive a probated jail sentence or fine.
In addition, there are collateral consequences to consider. These include:
- Losing Your Job & Future Job Opportunities
- Having Difficulty Finding Housing
- Losing Custodial Rights
- Losing a Professional License and Security Clearances
- Being Unable to Get a Loan
- Losing Your Gun or Right To Vote
- International travel restrictions
While these maximums are the worst case scenario, they are not rare. In addition, other factors that play a role include:
- Your driving record.
- Past criminal history.
- The Judge’s mood at the time of sentencing.