DWI In Texas: An Overview Of The Penalties Part I
Drivers convicted of their first DWI in Texas face a fine, a driver’s license suspension, and the possibility of a jail sentence. The precise limits of these penalties depend on the driver’s BAC.
At or below 0.15 BAC, a first-offense DWI in Texas is considered a Class B misdemeanor. The fine imposed will not exceed $2,000. License suspension will be for a period of 90 to 365 days. Jail sentences, when imposed, range from 3 to 180 days.
If the driver’s BAC is above 0.15, a first-offense DWI in Texas becomes a Class A misdemeanor. This increases the upper limit on the fine to $4,000 and the maximum jail sentence to one year.
If you are convicted of a first-time DWI and your BAC was between 0.08 and 0.14, you may apply for “non-disclosure” status. This can only be done two years after the end of your probation. You are also obliged to install an ignition interlock device and use it for 6 months. Non-disclosure status limits who is allowed to look at your criminal record. Talk to your attorney to learn more about non-disclosure.
A DWI conviction for a second offense in Texas raises the limits on the penalties again. The fine imposed can be as high as $4,000, the jail sentence can range from 30 days to 1 year, and the driver’s license is suspended for a period of 180 days to 2 years. Second offenses count as Class A misdemeanors.
The DWI penalties in Texas rise again for a third offense. Fines rise to $10,000, jail sentences range from 2 to 10 years, and license suspension can last between 180 days and 2 years. A third-offense DWI conviction counts as a 3rd-degree felony. This means prison time must be served in a state prison rather than a county jail. A felony conviction also curtails your right to vote and own firearms.
When a Texas DWI also involves an open alcohol container, a minimum jail penalty (6 days) is imposed.
A DWI that involves serious bodily injury with intoxication as a proximate cause may become Intoxication Assault. This imposes more severe penalties if you are convicted. Prison sentences may be up to 10 years and there is a two-year minimum sentence. Even if the sentence is probated, the convict must serve at least 30 days in jail. Fines for intoxication assault can be up to $10,000. Intoxication assault is a 3rd-degree felony.
Your trial may also determine that you were driving in a way that made your vehicle a “deadly weapon.” In that case, additional penalties disqualify you from early prison release (No good time credit). An absolute minimum of half of the sentence must be served prior to release.
When a DWI causes death and intoxication is verified as the cause of death, the responsible party can be tried for Intoxication Manslaughter. If found guilty, you can be sentenced to a fine of up to ,000 and/or a prison sentence between 2 and 20 years. Intoxication manslaughter is a 2nd-degree felony. Even when probation is granted, convicts must serve at least 120 days in jail. As above, intoxication manslaughter may have a “deadly weapon” provision that prohibits good time credit while serving a prison sentence.
DWI with a child passenger is a special case that applies when a driver has another person in the vehicle under the age of 15. This is a state jail felony that demands a prison term of at least 180 days and up to 2 years. It also imposes a fine of up to $10,000.
Most DWI convictions in Texas produce probation. Citizens involved in a DWI case are strongly encouraged to study the full meaning of probation before considering the specific penalties that might be assigned to a DWI/DUI attorney.