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Penalties for DWI in Texas

Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas can have serious consequences including fines, time in county or state jail, and suspension of a person's driver's license. Individuals who have been charged with a DWI in Texas can also expect to pay court costs, fees for driver education courses, installation and maintenance fees for an interlock device on their primary vehicle, and increased insurance premiums. A DWI conviction can also have serious consequences on a person's career and can disqualify individuals with a commercial driver's license (CDL) from being to hold any job that requires a CDL.

DWI Penalties in Texas

The penalties for a DWI vary according to whether the charge is a first, second, or third offense. For a first offense, there is an enhancement if a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level was 0.15 or over. Drivers with a child passenger will face an enhanced penalty. DWI cases that involve an accident caused by the intoxicated driver can result in felony charges if the accident resulted in serious injuries or death.

Conviction First Offense DWI
Offense Level Class B Misdemeanor
Fine Up to $2,000
Jail or Prison Sentence 72 hours to 180 days county jail
License Suspension 90 days to one year
Conviction First Offense with BAC 0.15 or Over
Offense Level Class A Misdemeanor
Fine Up to $4,000
Jail or Prison Sentence 72 hours to one year county jail
License Suspension 90 days to one year
Conviction First Offense with Open Container
Offense Level Class B Misdemeanor
Fine Up to $2,000
Jail or Prison Sentence 6 to 180 days county jail
License Suspension 90 days to one year
Conviction 2nd Offense DWI
Offense Level Class A Misdemeanor
Fine Up to $4,000
Jail or Prison Sentence 30 days to one year county jail
License Suspension 180 days to two years
Conviction 3rd Offense DWI
Offense Level 3rd Degree Felony
Fine Up to $10,000
Jail or Prison Sentence 2 to 10 years in Texas state prison
License Suspension 180 days to two years
Conviction 3rd or More Offense DWI with Prior Prison Sentence
Offense Level 2nd Degree Felony
Fine Up to $10,000
Jail or Prison Sentence 2 to 20 years in Texas state prison
License Suspension 180 days to two years
Conviction 3rd or More Offense DWI with 2 Prior Prison Sentences
Offense Level Enhanced Felony Punishment
Fine Up to $10,000
Jail or Prison Sentence 25 years to life in Texas state prison
License Suspension 180 days to two years
Conviction Intoxication Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury
Offense Level 3rd Degree Felony
Fine Up to $10,000
Jail or Prison Sentence 2 to 10 years in Texas state prison
License Suspension 180 days to two years
Conviction Intoxication Manslaughter
Offense Level 2nd Degree Felony
Fine Up to $10,000
Jail or Prison Sentence 2 to 10 years in Texas state prison
License Suspension 180 days to two years
Conviction DWI with Child Passenger (Younger than 15 Years)
Offense Level State Jail Felony
Fine Up to $10,000
Jail or Prison Sentence 6 months to 2 years in Texas state jail facility
License Suspension 90 days to two years
Conviction Offense Level Fine Jail or Prison Sentence License Suspension
First Offense DWI Class B Misdemeanor Up to $2,000 72 hours to 180 days county jail 90 days to one year
First Offense with BAC 0.15 or Over Class A Misdemeanor Up to $4,000 72 hours to one year county jail 90 days to one year
First Offense with Open Container Class B Misdemeanor Up to $2,000 6 to 180 days county jail 90 days to one year
2nd Offense DWI Class A Misdemeanor Up to $4,000 30 days to one year county jail 180 days to two years
3rd Offense DWI 3rd Degree Felony Up to $10,000 2 to 10 years in Texas state prison 180 days to two years
3rd or More Offense DWI with Prior Prison Sentence 2nd Degree Felony Up to $10,000 2 to 20 years in Texas state prison 180 days to two years
3rd or More Offense DWI with 2 Prior Prison Sentences Enhanced Felony Punishment Up to $10,000 25 years to life in Texas state prison 180 days to two years
Intoxication Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury 3rd Degree Felony Up to $10,000 2 to 10 years in Texas state prison 180 days to two years
Intoxication Manslaughter 2nd Degree Felony Up to $10,000 2 to 10 years in Texas state prison 180 days to two years
DWI with Child Passenger (Younger than 15 Years) State Jail Felony Up to $10,000 6 months to 2 years in Texas state jail facility 90 days to two years

DWI Penalties for Commercial Drivers

The consequences of a DWI conviction for a person with a CDL can be much greater than those for individuals who have a regular driver's license. Commercial drivers can be charged with a DWI if they are caught driving with a BAC level of 0.04 or higher. A first offense DWI charge for drivers with a CDL is a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and three to 180 days in jail. CDL drivers who are charged with a DWI will be issued a temporary license and must request a hearing to contest the suspension of their commercial license within 15 days. CDL drivers with two or more prior convictions can be prohibited from obtaining a CDL for life.

Penalties for DWI Test Refusal

If you are driving in Texas, "implied consent" laws mean that you are required to submit to a test of your blood, breath or urine or face the loss of your driving privileges for refusal to submit to a BAC test. The most common type of test to be administered when police suspect that a driver is under the influence of alcohol is a breath test. Police may request a test of your urine or blood if they suspect that you are under the influence of a substance that cannot be detected by a breath alcohol test.

Additional DWI Penalties for Texas Drivers

You may be required to attend an alcohol education course and obtain an interlock device on your vehicle during the time period your license is suspended. You will be required to pay for the cost of these yourself as well as any fees the Department of Motor Vehicles requires for reinstatement of your driver's license at the end of any suspension period.

You can expect to pay legal fees in addition to other initial costs such as the money required to post bond to get out of jail. Hiring an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to beat a DWI case is the best way to minimize the consequences of a DWI charge going forward.

Collateral Consequences of a DWI Charge

A DWI conviction can damage your reputation, prevent you from getting certain jobs, and can cause your insurance premiums to increase. You can face the loss of a job if your employer finds out about the charge because you missed work due to being incarcerated. Many employers will be reluctant to hire a person with a DWI conviction especially if the job requires driving.

If you have been convicted of a felony DWI offense, you can lose your gun rights and voting rights. Convicted felons may face increased difficulty finding employment and housing. In some cases, it may be possible to beat a DWI case or negotiate a plea bargain so that you can avoid the harsh consequences of a felony. This is why it is important to ensure that you have the best DWI defense possible when fighting a DWI case before you lose these important rights.

Consult an Experienced DWI Attorney in Austin, Texas 

If you have been charged with a DWI in Texas, it is important to speak to a criminal defense attorney right away. If you have been involved in an accident and you were accused of being intoxicated, do not speak to anyone about your case including the police before contacting an attorney. Contact Texas DWI lawyer Jason S. English online or call (512) 454-7548.

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