How Does Texas Penalize DWIs?

Texas penalizes DWIs with potential jail or prison sentences, large monetary fines, and driver’s license suspension. The severity of your penalties will depend on your past record of drunk driving, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and any aggravating circumstances that may apply.

What Penalties Can I Expect for a Texas DWI Conviction?

Upon conviction for DWI in Texas, you face substantial fines, possible jail time, and a lengthy suspension of your driver’s license.

In addition, you must pay court costs and fees and attend court-mandated alcohol education classes at your expense. You might also face additional sanctions, such as:

  • Supervised probation
  • Community service
  • Counseling or rehab

You may also have to install — and pay for — an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

The specific charges and Texas DWI penalties you face depend on whether you have any prior drunk driving convictions and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your arrest. If your arrest involved any aggravating circumstances, or if you cause a drunk driving accident with damage or injuries, you will face more severe penalties.

Once convicted, you will have a permanent criminal record that can profoundly affect many parts of your life. In most cases, you cannot have the record of a Texas DWI conviction sealed or expunged from your record.

Penalties for a First-Offense DWI in Texas

For a first-offense DWI in Texas, you will face Class B misdemeanor charges (assuming you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.08 and 0.149), with penalties as follows:

  • 3 to 180 days in jail
  • Fines up to $2,000
  • Driver’s license suspension up to 1 year

If your BAC registers at 0.15 or above, you will face Class A misdemeanor charges.

Penalties for Second-Offense DWI

A second-offense DWI in Texas carries Class A misdemeanor charges with the following penalties, with a BAC of 0.08 to 0.149.

  • 30 days to one year in jail
  • Fines up to $4,000
  • Driver’s license suspension up to 2 years

If you had a BAC of 0.15 or above, you will face third-degree felony charges for a second-offense DWI.

Consequences of a Felony DWI Conviction

For a third-offense or felony DWI, and for any subsequent offenses, you will face third-degree felony charges and these penalties:

  • 2 to 10 years in prison
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Driver’s license suspension up to 2 years

How Do Aggravating Circumstances Affect Texas DWI Penalties?

You will face more severe Texas DWI penalties if your offense involved any aggravating circumstances.

For example, if you had a minor child (under age 15) in the car while driving drunk, you may face child endangerment charges in addition to the DWI charges. A conviction for child endangerment carries up to 2 years in state jail and fines of up to $10,000.

If you had an open container in the vehicle, or if you provided alcohol to a minor, you will face more severe penalties.

What Are the Texas DWI Penalties for Drunk Driving Accidents?

If you cause a wreck or accident while driving drunk, you could face years or even decades in jail.

For a DWI wreck with property damage, you will face drunk driving charges as well as reckless damage or destruction charges, a Class C misdemeanor. However, if the accident caused extensive damage, the prosecutor could pursue felony reckless damage and destruction charges.

If your drunk driving accident causes injuries, you will face intoxication assault charges, a third-degree felony that carries the following penalties:

  • 2 to 10 years in prison
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Driver’s license suspension up to 2 years

If you kill someone while driving drunk, you will face intoxication manslaughter charges, a second-degree felony with penalties as follows:

  • 2 to 20 years in prison
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Driver’s license suspension up to 2 years

If the victim was a first responder, you will face first-degree felony charges and the following penalties:

  • Up to 99 years (life) in prison
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Driver’s license suspension up to 2 years

How Does a Texas DWI Conviction Affect Your Criminal Record?

In addition to incarceration, fines, fees, and driver’s license suspension, a Texas DWI conviction remains on your record permanently. The penalties for having a DWI on your record, although not mandated by any statutes, can have a significant effect on your life.

Employers can deny your application for employment based on your conviction and landlords may refuse to rent you a house or apartment.

You cannot obtain or hold many types of professional licenses after a DWI conviction. Colleges and universities can also deny your acceptance. If your DWI conviction involved felony charges, the state may take away your right to sit on a jury, vote, or own a firearm in Texas.

Can You Minimize or Avoid Texas DWI Penalties?

A DWI lawyer will protect your rights and work diligently to get your drunk driving charges reduced or dismissed.

Because of the potential severity of Texas drunk driving penalties, you should not make any decisions or enter a guilty plea without first consulting with a lawyer. We provide a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation to help you make the best decision for your future.

Contact us today at 214-696-9253 to schedule your free consultation.

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