What is the punishment for a DWI in Texas?

DWI is the most common charge affecting Texas residents.

Every hour, three motor vehicle accidents involving drivers over the legal limit take place on state roads.

Because of the serious nature of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), the punishments in Texas are serious. 

What is the Punishment for a DWI in Texas?

How serious depends largely on three factors:

  1. How much alcohol was in your blood (you will face a charge of DWI of you have a BAC reading .08 or more)
  2. Whether or not it was your first offense
  3. Other circumstances surrounding the severity of the crime

DWI is considered more serious than DUI. Only people under the age of 21 can be charged with DUI in Texas. 

The consequences are therefore more severe too: rather than community service and a 60-day driving license suspension, you may face jail time and loss of license for a year or more.

Punishments for first, second, and third offenses (and more) vary and are outlined by the Texas Department of Transportation here.

What is the punishment for first offenders in DWI cases?

First-time offenders account for the greatest volume of DWI charges in Texas.

A conviction for a first DWI offense could result in the following, providing there are no aggravating factors.:

  • A fine of up to $2,000 
  • A jail sentence of 3-180 days
  • Mandatory loss of your driver’s license from 90-365 days
  • An annual fee of $1,000 – $2,000 for three years to retain your license

A first offense DWI is considered a “Class B Misdemeanor” in Texas.

When there are aggravating factors, the judge can impose harsher penalties because the offense may be treated as a higher-class misdemeanor or even a felony. 

That generally means higher fines, a higher likelihood of time in jail, and other penalties imposed.

For instance, if there was an open container of alcohol in the vehicle at the time you were pulled over, the minimum jail term is increased from three days to six days.

If your blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds .15, the judge will insist that you install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle to prevent you from driving while intoxicated again.

Other typical aggravating factors include:

  • A prior DWI conviction
  • The presence of a child passenger in the vehicle
  • Causing an accident that results in injury or death

A skilled DWI lawyer can help you avoid jail time for a first-time offense.

Your lawyer may be able to convince the judge to impose a period of probation rather than a jail sentence.

In such cases, you will likely have to attend and successfully complete a driver’s education class and perform community service.

What is the punishment for a second DWI offense?

A second DWI offense is treated as a “Class A Misdemeanor” in Texas.

This means that the penalties are harsher regardless of how long ago the previous offense was. A previous offense from 20 years ago is treated the same as an offense from one year ago.

Consequently, you will face the mandatory suspension of your driver’s license for one year even before the trial. 

If you are convicted, the following punishments could apply:

  • A fine of up to $4,000 
  • A jail sentence of up to one year (minimum jail sentence 30 days)
  • An annual fee of $1,000 – $2,000 for three years to retain your license

Again, a skilled DWI lawyer may be able to secure probation rather than a jail sentence, if you agree to attend repeat offenders’ classes at DWI school.

After two or more DWI convictions within a five-year period, the court will force you to install an interlock device on your vehicle to prevent you from operating it if you have been drinking.

What is the punishment for a third DWI offense or more?

A third DWI offense or more will be treated as a third-degree felony if you are convicted. The penalties are therefore elevated significantly in these cases.

A third offense generally means:

  • A fine of up to $10,000 
  • A jail sentence of 2-10 years (state penitentiary)
  • The loss of driver’s license for 180 days to two years
  • An annual fee of $1,000 – $2,000 for three years to retain your license

DWI with a child passenger

The state of Texas treats DWI with a Child Passenger more seriously than a simple DWI conviction. 

It is treated as a felony that is punishable by jail time of not less than 180 days and no more than two years. 

An experienced lawyer can reduce your punishment

Being convicted of DWI in San Antonio has potentially life-changing consequences.

It’s very important to hire an experienced DWI lawyer from the start to begin work on preparing a strong defense.

If case dismissal is not possible, a strong defense can win the trial or at least get the penalties against you mitigated.

At Trey Porter Law, DWI in San Antonio and the surrounding area is my sole focus.

I’m experienced in all aspects of DWI cases and securing case dismissals.

If you’re facing a DWI charge in Texas, call or text 210-920-1281 today for a free case evaluation or complete our online contact form.

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