Is Drunk Driving a Criminal Offense in Texas?
As codified in the Texas Penal Code §4904, drunk driving is a criminal offense in Texas. If convicted, you could face a wide array of penalties that affect your life for months and years to come. Keep reading to learn more about DWI penalties and how to avoid them.
Driving While Intoxicated is a Serious Offense
Per the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the legal definition of “drunk driving” is getting behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. A police officer can pull over anyone they suspect of driving drunk. They will then ask to measure the driver’s BAC with a blood test, a breathalyzer test, or both—whichever they decide.
If you are over 21 and you are caught drinking and driving, you will receive a charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI). If you are under 21 and you are caught with any amount of alcohol in your blood, you may be charged with DWI or driving under the influence (DUI).
DWI Penalties You May Face
The state of Texas takes drunk driving very seriously, so even a first offense carries steep consequences. First-offense DWI penalties include:
- Anywhere from 72 hours to 6 months in jail
- A fine of up to $2,000
- A driver’s license suspension of up to 1 year
By your third offense, the above penalties will increase to:
- At least 2, and as many as 10, years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
- A driver’s license suspension of up to 2 years
It is also important to remember that the penalties described above apply to DWI convictions only. DUI penalties are generally lighter. Meanwhile, you may face worse penalties if you are charged with additional alcohol-related offenses, such as:
- Driving with an open container of alcohol
- Driving drunk with a child in the car
- Intoxication assault
- Intoxication manslaughter
The Long-Term Consequences of a DWI Conviction
While DWI penalties are daunting, they are not the only consequences you could face if convicted. Fines, jail time, a suspended driver’s license, and a criminal record can also have long-term impacts on:
- Your finances: Large fines can take a big chunk out of your savings, and you may have trouble getting to work without a driver’s license.
- Your career: If you miss work due to a license suspension or jail sentence, you could lose your job. In addition, a criminal record can make it more difficult for you to find employment in the future.
- Your housing situation: A criminal record may also make prospective landlords think twice about renting you an apartment.
- Your reputation: Your friends and family will know about your conviction, as will anyone with access to your criminal record.
- Your emotional wellbeing: Knowing you were convicted of a crime and spending any amount of time behind bars can affect your self-esteem and mental health.
- Your rights: A conviction could permanently rob you of your right to vote and to own a gun.
A DWI conviction also means you can’t get your record sealed. If you are facing DWI charges, it is a good idea to contact our law firm as quickly as possible. The sooner you call, the sooner we can get started defending you.
Why Hire a Law Firm to Defend You?
No matter the charges or the evidence against you in Dallas, you have the right to legal representation. A lawyer from our firm can help you with all aspects of your case, from deciding how to plead to representing you in the courtroom. We can take any or all of the following steps in your defense:
- Investigating: Our team will be better able to defend you if we can find evidence of your innocence, another party’s guilt, or police misconduct.
- Seeking a dismissal: With sufficient evidence, a lawyer from our team can ask a judge to drop the charges against you without ever going to trial.
- Seeking a reduction: We can also argue that the charges against you should be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
- Preparing for trial: Our team can find and question witnesses, prepare and submit trial exhibits, and argue your case in front of a jury.
- Making legal decisions: Hiring a lawyer from our team means you will always have someone on call to answer your questions and advise you about available courses of action.
Contact Our Attorneys for Help Today
Since drunk driving is a criminal offense in Texas, you will want to do everything in your power to protect your rights. Call Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg at (214) 696-9253 for a free consultation. We can help you to understand your rights and to figure out the best way of approaching your defense.