What is a DWI Misdemeanor?
A DWI is a misdemeanor that focuses on driving while intoxicated. A person can be convicted of DWI even if the alcohol content of their blood is not high enough to qualify for a DUI.
There are several ways a prosecutor can prove that a driver was intoxicated, including using a breathalyzer or blood test. However, most states use what is known as per se intoxication.
DWI Misdemeanor Charge
A DWI is a charge for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of them. While there are many factors that can determine the severity of a DWI charge, the most important is the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the arrest.
If your BAC was low at the time of the arrest, you may be charged with a misdemeanor that carries minimal consequences. A fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term that can last from 24 hours to 60 days is usually all that is imposed.
When your BAC is higher, you could be accused of a more serious offense known as aggravated DWI. If you were in an accident and injure another person, or if you caused a fatal accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could be facing third-degree felony charges.
In addition to a criminal record, a DWI conviction can impact your employment. Many employers have a zero-tolerance policy for DUIs, and they may not hire you at all, even if you’re otherwise qualified.
Penalty for DWI Misdemeanor
The penalty for a DWI misdemeanor depends on the specific charges and the circumstances of the case. For a first offense, the charge may be dismissed or reduced to a traffic infraction if there are no aggravating factors. The court may also order a DUI education program to help address your alcohol abuse and prevent you from repeating the crime.
License Suspension and IID
Under Texas law, a driver 21 years old or older who has a BAC of 0.08% or higher can be charged with a DWI. This is a serious charge because the defendant will lose their license for up to seven months. The penalty includes a fine, an IDRC requirement of 12 to 48 hours, and insurance surcharges of $1,000 annually for three years.
If a second DWI is committed within 10 years of the first, the driver’s license will be suspended for two years. The fine is between $500 and $1,000, the IDRC requirements are 12 to 48 hours, insurance surcharges of $1,000 annually for three years, and up to 30 days in jail.
A third DWI is a felony. The penalties for a third conviction are higher than for a first offense and include a fine of up to $10,000, a prison sentence of up to 10 years, and a revocation of the driver’s license for five years.
Jail Time for DWI Misdemeanor
In many states, a DUI charge is considered a misdemeanor. In some cases, it is even classified as a civil infraction, which means that it does not create a criminal record. However, if you have two or more prior DUI convictions on your record, your charge will rise to a felony.
For a first-time offense, a misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail or a year of probation. This can be a significant amount of time, especially if you are convicted on multiple occasions.
A first-time offender will also pay a fine, attend alcohol education classes and have their license suspended for a certain period of time. This will depend on your state, but the suspension will typically last for up to one year.
Second-time offenders will usually receive probation in lieu of jail time. Probation terms can range from three to five years, and the court may require some form of substance abuse treatment during this term.
The length of a jail or prison sentence depends on a variety of factors, including whether you have previous convictions and any aggravating circumstances. In addition, the amount of your jail or prison time will depend on your BAC level at the time of your arrest.
If you are convicted of a DWI misdemeanor, it can have a lasting effect on your life. In addition to the criminal consequences, your driving privileges will be affected and your insurance will increase.
What Does DWI Misdemeanor Affect?
Misdemeanors are less serious crimes than felonies, and most of them involve jail time and fines. However, they can be enhanced by certain circumstances such as the death of another person or driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle.
In Texas, most types of DWI offenses that a first-time offender commits are considered misdemeanors. One exception is aggravated driving while intoxicated with a child, which is a class E felony that is punishable by up to seven years in prison, a fine up to $2,000, and license revocation for at least eighteen months.
A convicted person faces a lot of other penalties, as well, including house arrest, probation, community service, and a suspension of their driver’s license. In addition, many states require them to install an ignition interlock device in their car.
DWI charges and convictions often appear on a person’s driving record and can interfere with their employment or housing prospects. In fact, most employers will conduct background checks on potential employees before hiring or approving housing applications.
When Does a DWI Misdemeanor Turn into a Felony?
When a person is arrested for driving under the influence, they are often concerned about how the charges will affect them. It is normal to worry about whether or not you will go to jail, get a hefty fine, and even lose your driver’s license.
While a DWI is usually treated as a misdemeanor, there are situations that can cause it to become a felony. These include if you had a particularly high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or if you were transporting children while you were driving under the influence.
A felony DUI is much more serious than a misdemeanor, and it can result in significant fines and jail time. It is also possible to face a felony conviction if you caused serious injuries or death while you were under the influence of alcohol.
Felonies can be life-changing for the offender, as they can have serious consequences for the rest of their lives. They can affect their professional licenses, and their voting rights, and they might also affect the custody of their children.
The severity of the penalty depends on many factors, including if you have prior DWI or DUI convictions. In addition, some states have recently imposed regulations that prevent individuals with a certain number of DUI or DWI-related convictions from getting re-licensed to drive.
Hiring a Lawyer for DWI Misdemeanor Case
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, it is important to hire an experienced attorney right away. The law regarding driving under the influence (DUI) and the court system is extremely complex, and you need someone who knows how to navigate it.
A lawyer can also help you negotiate with the prosecutor and challenge certain types of evidence. This can lead to a successful outcome. For example, if you fail the field sobriety test but the breath test shows that your BAC level is within the legal limit, your attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charge to reckless driving.
You should also be aware that DUI laws are constantly changing and can fluctuate between states. This can be especially true if you live in a different state than where you were arrested.
When you’re convicted of a DUI, it will be added to your permanent record and can negatively affect your life. This will include the loss of your driving privileges and your career prospects.
However, hiring a lawyer can be the best way to ensure that your DUI is not a permanent part of your life. The lawyer will analyze all the details of your arrest, review any witness statements and provide you with valuable insights that could help your case.