DWI Law and Punishments in Texas | What You Need to Know
Everyone makes mistakes occasionally. However, some errors have more severe repercussions than others. Texas officials and police take drunk driving very seriously, so if anyone has been accused of it, such a person needs to take it very seriously too.
Here’s what victims need to know about the laws and penalties of a DWI/DUI.
What Is a DWI?
Intoxication while operating a motor vehicle in Texas is defined as "not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body"
Additionally, "having an alcohol content of 0.08 or greater" is considered a DWI. Blood alcohol content, or BAC, is another name for alcohol concentration.
Individuals who match these criteria and are 21 years of age or older may be prosecuted with DWI, a Class B misdemeanor, under Texas law. However, the charge can become a Class A misdemeanor, which is worse, if their BAC is 0.15 percent or greater.
If controlled substances (illegal narcotics like cocaine) were used, the charge may also be elevated.
Penalties for a First Offense of DWI in Texas
Fortunately, charges for DWI on a first offense are often filed as Class B Misdemeanors. If a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is less than 0.15, which is almost twice the legal limit, they will likely face a 90–365-day license suspension, a fine of up to $2,000, and potentially a few days in jail, depending on the circumstances.
It's crucial for individuals to remember that even a first offense of DWI in Texas can easily become more serious in the hands of overbearing prosecutors, resulting in both criminal and administrative penalties. Less skilled or less expensive lawyers sometimes struggle with this complexity, which has long-lasting and detrimental effects on their clients.
Criminal Penalties for a DWI First Offense
The following are the criminal penalties for a DWI in Texas’s first offense, according to the Texas DMV website:
A fine of up to a $2,000
Between three days and 180 days of jail time
License suspension for up to 2 years
DWI intervention or education program
Possible ignition interlock device
DWI with a Child Passenger
Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger who is under 15 years old carries severe sentences. That is a state jail felony that carries a fine of up to $10,000 and a sentence of 180 days to two years in jail even if there have been no prior DWI convictions. Additionally, a person’s driver's license will be suspended for 180 days.
A second DWI offense is a Class A misdemeanor. When a Class A misdemeanor occurs, the fine increases from $2,000 to $4,000 for a Class B misdemeanor. Additionally, the maximum sentence for a first offense is doubled to a year in jail.
Furthermore, if someone is convicted of a second DWI, their license will be suspended for 18 months, and they will need to pay $100 to get it back.
Third DWI or Intoxication Assault
Essentially, a third-degree felony is charged with a DWI offense. A criminal conviction for such a crime carries a sentence of at least two years and a maximum of 10 years in jail and a fine of up to 10,000 dollars.
Furthermore, a third-degree felony also applies if a person assaults someone while intoxicated and causes substantial bodily harm to them. The same punishments apply as they would for a third DWI charge. If you have been charged with a DWI, contact the DUI lawyers in Tarrant County at Sparks Law Firm.
Even worse is intoxication manslaughter, which occurs when an individual accidentally kills someone while drinking and driving a motor vehicle. That is a second-degree crime, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a minimum two-year sentence up to a maximum 20-year prison term.
Hundreds of hours of community service may also be required.
Fighting & Expunging a First Offense DWI in Texas | Sparks Law Firm Has You Covered
In Texas, battling a first DWI is nearly always a scary process. Especially since many first-time offenders have never been in trouble with the law before, they don’t know where to turn for legal advice throughout the process. The team at Sparks Law Firm is committed to assisting its clients in completely understanding the process and their rights as a citizen.