Several factors determine how long an individual may spend behind bars and whether they will serve time in a state prison or county jail. Criminal penalties vary from state to state, and when it comes to DWI under Texas law, drunk driving convictions are dependent on multiple factors. These include but are not limited to the following:
The person's history of driving while intoxicated charges
What were the circumstances of the stop and arrest
The individuals level of intoxication
Any additional charges or aggravating circumstances
Whether the judge opts to probate the driver's sentence or gives them collateral consequences
In most cases, if the blood alcohol concentration of the first offense DWI is below 0.15, they can spend up to six months in jail. To be certain, you can read more about what is a high bac for a DUI.
Sentencing for a First Offense DWI in Texas
A Texas first offense DWI calls for sentencing between three days to six months and is a Class B misdemeanor. However, following the Texas first offense, no minimum sentence is required. An individual may avoid jail time entirely if the judge opts to probate their sentence. They would need to follow the terms of their probation and avoid additional charges while on DWI defense.
Jail Time Following a Second DWI Offense
The District Attorney in Texas will charge an additional DWI offense which is now classified as a Class A misdemeanor. This type of DWI conviction could result in 30 to 365 days spent in county jail. The individual will likely need to spend at least three days in the local prison but may be able to avoid additional time behind bars if the judge probates their sentence.
Prison Time for Third and Subsequent DWI Offenses in Texas
DWI offenders are taken very seriously by Texas law. An individual could face Third Degree Felony charges after their third or subsequent conviction.
They will spend more time behind bars in state prison instead of a county jail if they have a felony conviction.
The court could imprison the offender at any facility in the state, and the person convicted may not be close enough to friends and family for regular visitation. In the cases of felony offense sentencing, most people will find the penalty significantly longer than a misdemeanor.
Under Texas law, individuals may face two to 10 years in prison; even if the court probates their conviction time, they will likely need to serve a minimum sentence behind bars.
Serving Additional Jail Time for Aggravating Circumstances
An individual case can significantly increase the time they spend in a state prison or county jail when there are aggravating circumstances in addition to drugged or drunk driving. Here is an example of an aggravated case:
The accused is found to have a high blood alcohol content (.15 or above), which may be classified as a Class A misdemeanor, meaning they could spend up to one year in jail for their Texas first offense.
Below are more examples that can affect the criminal penalties during a DWI in Texas.
Open Container Enhancement
The minimum jail time is increased with the first offense in Texas if the individual has an open container in the passenger area of their motor vehicle. Depending on the individual case, this sentencing can range significantly, primarily if the motorist is heavily influenced and has a controlled substance in the car.
Someone could face a Felony of the Third Degree Charge if they cause an accident while under the influence and the occupant or passengers of the over car suffers severe injuries. When convicted, it brings a two to 10-year sentence in state prison. Even when the judge offers probation, there is still a meager jail sentence attached to this conviction.
A Second Degree Felony could see a person facing two to 20 years in prison. These cases are when someone dies due to a drunk driving crash caused by the guilty party. Even if the court grants the individual probation, there will be a minimum DWI arrest sentence issued no matter what.
Minimizing Jail Time and Criminal Penalties Following a Texas Drunk Driving Conviction
In some cases, an individual may qualify for a probated sentence following a Texas DWI conviction. This means that the entire prison or jail time handed down by the judge will not need to be served wholly.
Probation is an agreement between the court and the convicted, stating the offender must follow the terms set out by the judge for a specific period to avoid the harsh consequences of their DWI conviction. If individuals follow the probation rules closely, they may avoid jail time together for their first offense.
The above can also limit an individual's time behind bars drinking, driving-related arrests, and subsequent DWI.
DUI Criminal Penalties for Minors
Anyone under the age of 21 is defined as a minor for DWI law and other laws involved with alcohol. If there is any detectable alcohol in their system, minors could have administrative penalties, such as future license suspension. (Find out how long will your license be suspended for DUI.)
When minors are caught driving under the influence of alcohol or other substance, they face the following penalties for a first offense:
Ignition interlock device installation
Mandatory enrollment in an alcohol education program
Loss of their right to drive
With each subsequent DWI offense in Texas, these penalties increase significantly, including jail time in most crimes. Fortunately, an experienced Fort Worth, Texas lawyer from Sparks Law Firm can often mitigate these and other long-term consequences that reckless driving minor DWI offenders may face.
Penalties for Refusing Chemical Testing
An individual has to consent to a chemical test if police officers suspect that they are over the legal limit. The "implied consent" rule states that anyone who operates a motor vehicle in Texas must hold a valid driver's license and is subject to sobriety tests or a breath test.
Individuals can lose their license if they refuse such testing because of this rule. The criminal part of a DWI case and suspension are entirely separate, and it can result in the person's license suspension period lasting 90 days to a two-year suspension.
After refusing the chemical test, drivers will not lose their license immediately. After refusal, they have 15 days to request a hearing and discuss the administrative license revocation penalties regarding their license suspension. When it gets to this stage, the best thing the accused can do is hire a lawyer with an excellent attorney-client relationship who can dispute the DWI charges in the police report.
An automatic suspension begins 40 days after the accused's refusal if they miss the 15-day window of opportunity to request the hearing. The administrative hearings can be ordered online and are handled by the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
Mandatory Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device
In some cases, especially a third offense DWI, the judge will require that the wrongdoer install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Additionally, the lawbreaker's driver's license will have a restriction indicating that they may only drive an automobile with such a device installed. The device must be installed by an approved service provider and be an approved instrument.
Second Offense DWI in Texas
After the first DWI charge, the penalties associated with additional DWI convictions increase exponentially. A second DWI offense in Texas may result in a jail sentence of one month to one year and a maximum fine of up to $4,000.
The license suspension attached to the second offense can last two years, and the Texas Department may apply a surcharge of $2,000 annually for three years. An accused may be required to attend a DWI intervention or education program and install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.
Third DWI in Texas
The fine associated with a subsequent or third offense in Texas can be up to $10,000. In addition, offenders will have their licenses suspended for up to two years and be arrested for two to 10 years.
A $2,000 surcharge assessed per year for three years may also apply to the guilty party. Finally, they must also participate in a DWI intervention or educational program and install an ignition interlock device in their motor car.
DWI Crimes and Injury to Others
The Texas Department has defined other criminal charges involving DWI crimes as a risk of injury to other pedestrians or motorists. These criminal charges include but are not limited to the following:
First DWI with a child under 15 in the automobile
These offenses expose offenders to much more than administrative consequences and are prosecuted under different code sections than DWI law. Additionally, causing a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state, injuring emergency medical personnel, a peace officer, or a firefighter are defined by the law as "enhanced offenses."
Get the Right Attorney-Client Relationship
After a person's first DWI offense, they can be left with severe mental or physical faculties. The best thing to do would be to hire a DWI lawyer from Sparks Law Firm if their blood alcohol content was above the limit. A Fort Worth DWI attorney supplies the guilty party with a free consultation and criminal defense in any DWI charges place of them.
DWI cases and DWI defense are the specialties of Sparks Law Firm; it is recommended that drivers who failed any blood alcohol concentration sobriety tests contact the firm to avoid driving privileges removal and potentially eliminate their criminal record.