The National TOP 100 Trial Lawyers
America's Top 100 - Criminal Defense Attorneys
Avvo Reviews
Avvo Ratting 10.0 Top Attorney
Avvo Clients' Choice Award 2018
The University of Texas at Austin School of Law

What to Expect From Your First DWI in Texas

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

If you’re facing DWI charges in Texas, you’re not alone. Texas is the fourth-worst state for drunk driving crashes and charges alike. The penalties for a first DWI in Texas are severe, and they only get worse with additional charges. Here’s what you need to know!

The Process

At the time of the arrest, it’s important to remain calm and comply with the arresting officers. Remember, you have the right to remain silent, so exercise this right to the fullest extent until you have an attorney present. Here’s what to expect.

Stop & Arrest

First, a police officer will stop you for a traffic violation or suspicion of driving while intoxicated. If the police officer asks for a sobriety test, you have the right to refuse, but that comes with automatic penalties, including a license suspension of 180 days.

From there, you will likely be arrested upon failing or refusing a sobriety test, and you will then be taken to the station and booked.

The procedure for a DWI arrest is just like every other type of arrest. You will be handcuffed, driven to the station, fingerprinted, and possibly questioned at the station. Again, you don’t have to speak until you have an attorney present.


We aren’t talking about prison. Once you’ve been processed after the arrest, you will be placed in a holding cell until a court arraignment is possible and somebody posts bail. Alternatively, if you are sufficiently intoxicated, the officers may place you in a “drunk tank” until sober enough to attend the arraignment.

Most likely, you will only spend the night in jail before an arraignment, but it could take longer in certain situations.


After the arrest, you will attend your first arraignment either in-person or through the mail where you will hear the charges against you and enter your plea of guilty or not guilty. It’s important to know that contacting an experienced DWI attorney before entering your plea can help your case in the end. It’s highly recommended to contact a DWI attorney as soon as possible to see what they can do for you.

If you plead not guilty, bail will be set at this time and you will await your next court date. First, somebody will need to post the bail for you in order to release you from jail, usually requiring 10% of the total bail amount up front. If you show up for your future court dates, they will receive a refund.

However, if you plead guilty, you will likely be sentenced immediately. If so, here’s what you could face.

Penalties for First DWI in Texas

A first offense DWI in Texas is a Class B Misdemeanor, and the offense will stay on your record permanently unless you get it expunged.

If convicted in a trial or after a plea of guilty for your first DWI, you will have your driving privileges revoked for up to 2 years. More likely, you will see a license suspension of between 180 days and one year, but it depends on the case.

You will also face a monetary fine of no more than $2,000, between 3 and 180 days in jail, and attend a mandatory DWI education course. If you spent time in jail after your arrest, you may be released on “time served”, but you should expect to spend at least 3 days in jail.

Finally, an ignition interlock device (IID) will be installed in your vehicle to ensure you are operating the vehicle safely. You may also face community service hours of between 24 and 100 hours for a first offense.

However, it’s important to remember that nearly all of these penalties double for your second offense, and they become felony charges after that. If this is your first charge, a second one could ruin your future.

Lastly, there are circumstances that could worsen your penalties. If you were driving with a minor in the vehicle, you damaged property, or if your BAC was above 0.15 at the time of the arrest, then penalties are likely to increase beyond what’s mentioned above. If you have additional charges against you in the same case, these will also carry their own penalties.

Honestly, these penalties aren’t even the worst for some people facing DWI charges in Texas. First, you could potentially lose your job or find challenges in a search for new ones.

Many employers conduct background checks on employees, require clean driving records, or require a clear criminal background. If that’s the case, you could also face challenges in your job search.

Not only that but a license suspension of two years could also prevent you from getting to work. We all know public transportation is underfunded in most Texas cities, so relying on a personal vehicle to get to and from work is almost a necessity everywhere in the state. If you take the risk of driving without a license and get caught, you will face significant legal penalties that will only make life that much harder.

If you don’t live close to work or you need a valid license to perform your job, these changes alone could have devastating consequences on your life, which is why you need to prevent it from happening in the first place. Hiring an experienced DWI lawyer can help avoid many of these problems.

What You Can Do

DWI charges are serious misdemeanors that last on your record for life, prevent you from getting jobs, and can make future penalties more severe.

To prevent a permanent criminal record, a plea of guilty is highly recommended, but you can’t do it alone. For a first DWI in Texas, you need to do everything you can to protect your record. In that case, you should stay up to date with our latest legal news and contact us for help!

Visit Us

By Appointment Only - Contact Us

The Woodlands Office
8505 Technology Forest Pl #104

The Woodlands, TX 77381

Phone: 832-381-3430

Get in Touch

Free Consultation 832-381-3430

What Our Customers Say

"Andrea is a fantastic attorney versed in many fields. I've retained her services for criminal defense, nondisclosure orders, and family law. She has always provided a...

Steven Street Texas

"Andrea and her staff are definitely one of the greatest of all time. Their professionalism and knowledge of the law and how the system works is unparalleled. I have her...

Dwight Osteen Texas

“Andrea is the most amazing attorney I have ever had in my corner.” — Vincent, client facing 2nd DWI charge, CASE DISMISSED