Getting pulled over is something every driver dreads. Getting even a minor ticket can be a huge hassle. However, nothing is as bad as DWI penalties.
A DWI penalty or worse multiple offenses, can not only jeopardize your driving priveledges 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 Texas.
First Offense DWI Penalties
If it's your first time being charged and arrested with a DWI, your penalities 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 365 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.
But, you will 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.
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. Which is why you might want to consider an experienced DWI lawyer to advocate for you.
Second Offense Penalties
Second offense penalties for DWI mean that maximum fine can increase to $4,000 and or jail time for 30 days to a year. It is also possible that your driver's license can 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.
Second-time offenders can also get fined up to $4,000 and spend 30 days to a year in jail, with 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.
Additional Penalties in Texas
Be aware that there are additional penalties that can make your offenses worse. Penalities 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.
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.
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.
Contact A DWI Lawyer
Now that you know about the DWI penalties, you might want to consider getting a consultation from a lawyer. An experienced DWI attorney can help lower or reduce your penalties. For more resources on the law, check out our blog.