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Be Prepared: 3 Most Common DWI Penalties in Texas

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

Routine traffic stops happen everyday in Texas. Most of the time, a minor offense is met with a simple fine and maybe a few points of a license. But, being pulled over for DWI in Texas is an entirely different animal. DWI penalties in Montgomery, Texas can be stiff and depending on the circumstances, can have life changing consequences.

A DWI penalty or worse multiple offenses, can not only jeopardize your driving privileges but can leave you with heavy fines, court costs, and possible jail time. This can affect your personal and professional life, which is why you need to know about the possible DWI penalties you could face in Montgomery and most of Texas.

If it’s your first time being charged and arrested with a DWI, your penalties will likely be less severe than someone who is charged with multiple DWIs. But keep in mind, the penalties for a first time DWI conviction can still be steep.

First offense penalties for a DWI with less than a 0.15 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) includes possible fines of around $2,000 and or a jail sentence of anywhere between three and 180 days, plus a license suspension of 90 to 180 days (Class B Misdemeanor).

If the BAC is greater than 0.15, then there’s a chance of a fine increase of $4,000, and jail for up to a year (Class A misdemeanor). If you are a first-time offender with a BAC of 0.08 to .14, then you could apply for a “non-disclosure” two years after your probation ends.

You will likely need to install in ignition interlock device to your car, that must stay on for six months. A non-disclosure restricts who can see your criminal record. You will have to ask your attorney about this option. You will also be responsible for the costs of renting and/or maintaining the interlock device.

Under Texas law, if you are convicted on a first time DWI offense, you can get fined up to $2,000, spend three days to six months in jail, and or perform 24 to 100 hour of community service.

You may have specific directions from the Community Service Department if special circumstances need to be addressed in your case. For example, if you have a history of alcoholism, you might be directed for an intervention or a Victim Impact Panel.

The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Program could also suspend your license for 90 days to a year. If you can’t go without a license for that long, due to work or other reasons, you want to consider hiring an experienced DWI lawyer to advocate for you.

Second Offense Penalties

Second offense penalties for DWI substantially increase over a first offense. A second offense will typically mean a fine can increase to $4,000 and or jail time for 30 days to a year. It is also likely that your driver’s license will get suspended from 180 days to 2 years (Class A Misdemeanor).

As a second-time offender, you can face similar penalties as first-time offenders, just with enhanced conditions. Second-time offenders are almost always required to install an ignition interlock device on cars, which prevents driving unless there is a breathalyzer test. Once again, you will pay for the maintenance of this device on your car. These costs are above and beyond the fines and penalties for the offense.

Second-time offenders can also get assigned 80 to 200 hours of community service. The ALR program tends to suspend a second-time offender’s driver’s license for anywhere from 180 days to two years.

Third Offense Penalties

A third-time DWI offense consists of an aggravated DWI charge. This means that the charges from your misdemeanor are raised to a felony. If you have an aggravated DWI, you can face up to $10,000 in fines, two to ten years in a state penitentiary, 160 to 600 hours of community service, 180 days to two years of a suspended license (third-degree felony), and the installation of an interlock device on your car.

Be aware that imprisonment is in a dreaded state-run penal institution instead of a county-run jail. If you have a felony conviction you are also disqualified from voting and owning a firearm in the future. Even with the new gun laws recently passed in Texas, felons are still forbidden from owning or possessing a firearm.

Additional circumstances that impact penalties in Texas

Be aware that there are additional penalties that can make your offenses worse. Things like a record of alcohol problems, driving with an open container, and an accident where someone was injured or killed.

These conditions when added to a sentence are meant to address the offenders issues a restorative way. If it’s a case of intoxication assault or manslaughter, then these penalties are meant to increase fines, jail time, and community service.

An Open Alcohol Container

If you are pulled over with an open alcohol container, then your minimum jail time penalty can increase to six days.

Intoxication Assault

This is when an accident happened with serious bodily injuries because of intoxication. When convicted, the DWI penalties will be more severe. You can get sentenced to a minimum of two years, and up to a maximum of ten years in prison.

If you get a probated sentence, then you will serve a 30-day minimum jail sentence. You can also get fined up to $10,000 which is a third-degree felony if the car was driven in a way that made it a deadly weapon.

If this happens, then there is an additional penalty that prevents good time credit, which allows an early release once half the sentence is completed, from happening.

Intoxication Manslaughter

This is a DWI where the death happened in an accident due to intoxicated driving. When convicted you would have to pay a minimum fine of $10,000 and or jail time for two to twenty years as this is a second-degree felony.

In cases where probation is granted, you must serve a 120-day jail sentence. If the car was driven in a way that makes it a deadly weapon, then there is an additional penalty that prevents good time credit for an early release.

DWI With A Child Passenger

This is a case where a person has DWI and there is another person in the car who is under the age of 15. You can get punished by confinement in the state jail for no more than two years or less than 180 days, and a fine of $10,000 or a state jail felony.

Other conditions that can be added due to additional felonies include more fines, more jail time, alcohol interventions and treatment, ignition interlock devices, DWI education, restitution payments, and longer license suspension.

The best way to avoid the consequences of a DWI is to avoid driving under the influence in the first place. If it’s too late for that, your next best choice is to hire an experienced DWI lawyer who can work to lessen the consequences for your case. It’s not unusual for experienced DWI lawyers to get charges dismissed or drastically reduced. While there are no guarantees for any case, it’s a good idea to contact a local Montgomery DWI lawyer who can review your case and give you an idea what options are available to you. An experienced Montgomery DWI attorney can help lower or reduce your penalties. For more resources on the law, check out our blog.

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