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  • Writer's pictureJustin Sparks

How Long Do You Go to Jail for a DUI or a DWI? | Legal Questions Answered

Getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can have serious consequences. These substances can impair a driver's judgment, causing him or her to veer off the road or cause a car accident. This is why DUI or DWI charges in Texas are so stringent.

Anyone involved in a DUI or DWI may face serious consequences, especially if this is a repeat offense. Anyone who is wondering what jail time they may be looking at for a DWI conviction can find all they need to know here.

Facing a DUI or DWI Charge? Sparks Law Is Here to Help!

Facing drunk driving charges without a DWI lawyer can be incredibly intimidating. If you're wondering how long a DWI stays on your record in Texas, DWI convictions can have a permanent effect on a person's criminal record. It is best to receive sound legal counsel following a DWI offense.

A lawyer can help offenders get the minimum sentence and advise the accused on how to apply for probation.

Attorneys at Sparks Law have decades of experience dealing with DUI charges in Texas. Get in touch with an experienced DWI attorney today!

A DUI Versus a DWI Conviction

A DUI Versus a DWI Conviction

DUI is short for "driving under the influence," while DWI is an acronym for "driving while intoxicated."

While both these terms generally refer to operating or intending to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there are minor differences between these two terms.

The definitions of these phrases, as well as the penalties that violators face, differ by state. When a police officer believes a driver is too drunk to drive, he or she will be charged with DUI or DWI. Alcohol, opioids, exhaustion, and other factors could all play a role in such impairment.

What happens if you get a DUI under 21? DWI is a much more serious offense in Texas. The Texas Traffic Code solely charges minors with DUIs. It is significantly easier to be convicted of a DUI because it is applied when any level of alcohol is found in a minor's system. DWIs are prosecuted under the Texas Penal Code, making them a serious crime.

Acceptable Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in Texas

With the exception of Utah, where the blood alcohol limit is 0.05 percent, most states in the United States may declare it illegal to drive a car with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more, and Texas is no different.

Additional fines and penalties may be imposed in multiple states, including Texas if a driver is found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher. A breath, urine, or blood test is commonly performed to detect the blood alcohol concentration in a motorist's system.

Jail Time Drivers Can Expect for a DWI Offense

The consequences of drunk driving depend on the driver's prior criminal history and their history of drunk driving offenses. Here are the consequences of driving while intoxicated.

A First-offense DWI or DUI

A first-time offender is subject to a punishment ranging from three to six months jail time. The offense is categorized as a Class B Misdemeanor in Texas, and there is no mandatory minimum term.

This means that if a judge decides to probate a sentence, the offender may be able to avoid going to jail altogether by adhering to the requirements of their probation contract and avoiding any more offenses while on probation.

A Second DWI Offense

A second offense DWI arrest in Texas is considered a Class A Misdemeanor by the District Attorney. This kind of offense might result in a sentence of a month to a year in the county jail. Should the judge probate the sentence, an offender will almost certainly have to spend a minimum of three days in their local jail.

A Third DUI or DWI Charge

Repeat offenders are treated harshly under Texas law. Drivers may face Third Degree Felony charges for three or more DWI charges.

Offenders convicted of a felony are sentenced to serve jail time at a state prison rather than county jail. Authorities can transfer offenders to any facility within the state, which means that they might not be able to see their friends and family very often.

Prison terms for a felony offense will almost certainly be longer. The accused might face anywhere between 2 and 10 years in jail under Texas law, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. They will almost certainly have to serve a minimum sentence even if the Court grants probation.

Those involved in a third-time offense DWI in Texas are advised to contact Sparks Law Firm to book a free consultation. A lawyer can advise the offender on the best way to prevent the judge from applying the maximum sentence.

Administrative Penalties for a DWI in Texas

In addition to jail time, there are other penalties that offenders may face. These administrative penalties apply whether it is a driver's first offense or their fourth. Here are the penalties offenders can expect.

First Offense

The state will suspend an offender's driver's license for up to a year for a first-time offense. When retrieving their license, offenders are charged a $2,000 DWI fine annually for three years to have their driving privileges restored.

Second Offense

A second DWI conviction will result in a suspension of a driver's license for two years. The offender is charged a $2,000 premium per year for the next three years if they qualify to have their license reinstated.

Third Offense

A third conviction will get offenders a two-year driver's license suspension, and an annual supercharge of $2,000 for the next three years.

Subsequent Offenses

Any further offense will result in a two-year suspension of the offender's driver's license and a $2,000 annual fee.

Offenders Can Apply for a Hardship License

Drivers may apply for a hardship license that permits them to travel to and from work while their license is suspended, but they'll have to pay extra for things like an ignition interlock.

Hiring an experienced Texas DWI lawyer to assist will give offenders the best chance to secure a hardship license and lower the consequences when facing DWI charges in Texas.

Collateral Consequences

In addition to these penalties, a DWI conviction can have a significant impact on several areas of a person's life. Here are some examples of collateral consequences of drunk driving:

  • Offenders can lose their job

  • Finding housing can be challenging

  • They can lose their custodial rights

  • Offenders can lose their right to vote

  • They may not be able to own a firearm

Factors that Affect the Length of Time Spent in a State or County Jail Following a DWI Arrest

There are several factors that influence the amount of jail time an offender may face for a DWI conviction, including the presence of a child passenger.

These factors are referred to as aggravating circumstances and can have a grave impact on DWI charges. Below are some of the aggravating circumstances that can impact jail time.

Drunk Driving with a Child

Those who commit a DWI in Texas with a child passenger present will receive a state jail sentence. Child passengers are minors who are under the age of 15, and offenders with children in their vehicle will be subjected to six months to two years in state prison.

A DWI in Texas with an Open Container

Drunk driving with an open container or bottle of alcohol in the vehicle increases the minimum jail time for a first offense DWI to six days.

When Drunk Driving Causes a Car Accident

Those who drive while inebriated and cause a collision will face applicable DWI charges and a prison sentence. There will also be extra penalties depending on the type of collision and the magnitude of property damage caused.

In these circumstances, prosecutors typically charge people with reckless damage charges and charges for destruction or criminal recklessness. This kind of destruction is a misdemeanor.

Criminal recklessness, on the other hand, may result in criminal penalties. Those facing such charges are advised to book a free consultation with Sparks Law Firm to discuss a DWI defense strategy.

Intoxicated Assault

Suppose a person drives while intoxicated and causes a car accident in which their passenger or the occupant of the other vehicle sustains significant injuries. In that case, the drunk driver may be charged with a third-degree felony. A conviction can result in a jail sentence of 2 to 10 years in state prison. Even when a judge grants probation, this type of crime carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence.

When Drunk Driving Leads to Death

Drunk driving that causes a deadly accident results in intoxication manslaughter charges, which is a second-degree felony. Offenders could face a jail sentence of 2 to 20 years if convicted.

If the deceased was a first responder who was slain while doing their work, the offender will be charged with a first-degree felony and could be looking at a lifetime in jail.

Devising a DWI Defense to Reduce a Jail Sentence Following a DWI in Texas

Those involved in a DWI in Texas can take steps to reduce their sentence. Someone who has committed their first offense is more likely to have their sentence reduced than a repeat offender. Below are some steps that the accused can take to avoid criminal penalties and reduce their sentence.

Consult an Attorney with Experience in Dealing with DWI Cases

One of the most important steps to reducing a jail sentence is consulting a knowledgeable attorney who has dealt with these cases before.

Fort Worth DUI attorneys know that police officers can often force victims to take field sobriety tests or obtain blood samples without a warrant, especially for a first offense when offenders do not fully understand their rights or know what to expect.

Laboratory testing may also be done incorrectly or by untrained individuals, which can often lead to the charges being dropped. An attorney will know what to check to have a sentence reduced, which is why the first step that those involved in a DWI in Texas should take is to contact a reliable attorney.

Enroll in a Diversion Program or Do Community Service for a DWI in Texas

Some jurisdictions provide offenders with the opportunity to enroll in a diversion program if it is their first offense. They may be able to avoid jail time altogether if the judge grants their request for involvement and they follow the Court's instructions.

However, if the offender does not follow the terms, they may be sentenced to the maximum amount of time possible in prison.

Take the Case to Court

If a driver cannot persuade a prosecutor or the Court to lessen or reject the Texas drunk driving charges, they may want to consider going to trial. An offender may prevent going to jail if a DWI lawyer can prove their innocence or create reasonable doubt.

Can a Second Offense DWI Be Dismissed?

Can a Second Offense DWI Be Dismissed?

Each day, in courthouses throughout Texas, second-time charges are dropped. However, having these charges dropped is not easy because a second DWI is a Class A Misdemeanor, so the State will not be very forgiving. That's why it's vital to challenge these convictions, establish legal defenses, and do everything possible to prevent a mandatory prison sentence.

Been Involved in a DUI or DWI in Texas? Get in Touch with Sparks Law Firm Today!

Whether it is a first offense DWI or a repeat offense, Sparks Law can help offenders find a way forward. Here are a few reasons to choose Sparks Law:

  • Clients get a no-obligation free consultation to discuss their case with a knowledgeable, experienced attorney

  • Sparks Law lawyers pride themselves on maintaining a respectful attorney-client relationship with victims and offenders alike

  • Whether it is a first offense DWI conviction, or a third-time offense, an attorney from Sparks Law Firm will not discriminate, handling every case with the care and respect it deserves

Contact Sparks Law Firm to discuss a DWI in Texas by dialing 817-334-0300 to book a free consultation and case review.


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