Texas DWI Penalties

Texas DWI Penalties are severe. First-time DWI offenders face up to 1 year in jail, a $6,000.00 fine, court costs, a driver license suspension, and a permanent criminal conviction. Aggravating factors increase fine amounts and periods of incarceration. DWI offenders with multiple convictions face up to 10 years in prison.

  • Can a DWI 1st be dismissed or reduced? Yes. DWI charges are dismissed and reduced every day in courts across Texas for a variety of reasons. Learn more.
  • Is jail mandatory for a DWI 1st in Texas? No. However, enhancements, like an open container, can result in mandatory jail time.
  • Can you go to jail for DWI in Texas? Yes. Although not mandatory, first-time DWI offenders can face up to 1 year in jail.
  • What is the cost of a DWI in Texas? In the short term, thousands of dollars. However, the cost of a permanent criminal conviction is steep and impossible to calculate. Learn more.
  • Is a DWI a felony in Texas? In Texas, a first-time DWI charge is a Class B Misdemeanor, unless enhanced. Only  DWI 3rd (or more) and DWI with Child Passenger are classified as felony offenses. Learn more.

DWI First Offense Consequences

All first-time DWI charges in Texas are Class B misdemeanors, though they can be enhanced by certain factors. DWI first-time offenders face jail time, permanent criminal convictions, thousands of dollars in fines, and driver license suspensions. Here is the full breakdown: 

  • DWI with a BAC below .15 is a Class B Misdemeanor. The maximum fine is $3,000.00, and the maximum jail sentence is 6 months. A conviction for this offense is permanent, and results in a driver license suspension.
  • DWI with a BAC of .15 or higher is a Class A Misdemeanor. The maximum fine is $6,000.00, and the maximum jail sentence is 12 months. A conviction for this offense is permanent, and results in a driver license suspension.
  • DWI with an Open Container is a Class A or B misdemeanor, depending on the BAC, falling into the same punishment ranges as set forth above. However, a person convicted of this offense faces a minimum of 6 days in jail because of the Open Container enhancement. Learn more.
  • DWI with a Child Passenger is a State Jail Felony. The maximum fine is $10,000.00, and the maximum period of confinement is 24 months in a State Jail Facility. A conviction for this offense is permanent, and results in a driver license suspension as well other serious, collateral consequences associated with being a convicted felon.

DWI 2nd Offense Consequences

A second DWI offense (DWI-Repeat Offender) is a Class A Misdemeanor. The maximum fine is $6,000.00, and the maximum jail sentence is 12 months. A conviction for this offense is permanent, requires a 3-day jail sentence (even if probation is granted), and results in a driver license suspension.

There is no limit to how old a prior conviction may be to be used for enhancement purposes. Out of state convictions may be used as the basis for enhancement.

An ignition interlock device is a requirement of bond for all DWI 2nd charges. This means that as a condition of release from jail, a person must agree to install a deep lung device in all accessible vehicles. 

DWI 3rd Offense Consequences

After two DWI convictions, a third DWI offense (habitual DWI) is a Third Degree Felony. The maximum fine is $10,000.00, and the maximum prison sentence is 10 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) penitentiary. A conviction for this offense is permanent, requires a 10-day jail sentence, even if probation is granted, and results in a driver license suspension, as well as other serious, collateral consequences that come with being a convicted felon.

An ignition interlock device is a requirement of bond for all DWI 3rd (or more) charges. This means that as a condition of release from jail, a person must agree to install a deep lung device in all vehicles accessible to them.  

  • Do really old convictions, or convictions that are over 10 years old count? Yes. All prior convictions, no matter how old, may be used as the basis for enhancement.
  • Do convictions from another State count towards felony DWI in Texas? Yes. Out of state convictions may be used as the basis for enhancement.

Additional Texas DWI Consequences

In addition to the penalties and consequences outlined above, DWI can negatively affect a person’s right to concealed carry of a handgun. All Texas residents over 21 years of age are eligible to obtain a License to Carry (LTC), however, criminal charges, like DWI, can impact eligibility. 

In addition to the penalties and consequences outlined above, DWI can negatively affect a person’s right to travel. If placed on probation, travel is often limited to a person’s county of residence. International travel can also be negatively impacted by DWI. For example, Canada does not allow entry for any person convicted of DWI.

In addition to the penalties and consequences outlined above, DWI can negatively affect a person’s ability to obtain a Commercial Driver License. An already licensed Commercial Driver can lose their license due to a DWI charge, and may become ineligible for life after a second DWI conviction. Learn more.  

Texas DUI Consequences

Texas drivers under 21 years of age with any detectable alcohol in their system may be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). At the discretion of the State, a minor may be charged as an adult.

DUI is a Class C Misdemeanor. The maximum fine is $500.00. A conviction for this offense is permanent, results in a driver license suspension, and often includes court-ordered driving safety courses, alcohol and drug awareness courses, as well as community service. Learn more. 

Trey Porter Named Best DWI Lawyer in San Antonio

Mr. Porter has been voted by his peers as one of San Antonio’s Best Lawyers every year since 2015, with specific recognition in the fields of Criminal Defense and DWI Defense. Mr. Porter is also recognized by the National Trial Lawyers Association as a Top 40 Under 40 Criminal Defense Lawyer, and holds a 10.0 Superb rating from AVVO, where attorneys are rated based on skillful litigation, client satisfaction, peer endorsements, and positive results. Learn more. 

Texas DWI Penalties

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    Successful Cases

    CHARGES DISMISSED

    DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15

    Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.

    CHARGES DISMISSED

    DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

    Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.

    CHARGES DISMISSED

    DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+

    Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.

    CHARGES DISMISSED

    DWI 2nd

    Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.

    CHARGES DISMISSED

    DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

    Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.

    CHARGES DISMISSED

    DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

    Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.

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