DUI and DWI Charges in Texas: Will First-Time Offenders Go to Jail?
Driving while intoxicated or under the influence is a serious offense in Texas. Any person facing DWI charges should prepare for harsh consequences. Even as a first-time offender, there is the very real possibility of jail time.
Several factors come into play when charges and consequences are considered, which can reduce or increase the severity of the penalties given by the judge. Regardless of how many times a person has faced DWI charges, it is essential to have competent legal representation.
What Are the Consequences of DUIs and DWIs in Texas?
Texas law penalizes drunk driving charges severely- even if it is a first-time offense. Anyone charged with a DWI can face high fines and jail time. Depending on the circumstances, DWIs can be Class A or B misdemeanors. In some cases, they may even be charged as felonies.
DUI charges only apply to people under the age of 21. They are considered a Class C misdemeanor and do not carry any jail time. If a minor drives under the influence for the first time and does not injure anyone or has a blood alcohol level higher than 0.15, they may face this lesser charge. As a first-time offender under 21 years old, this is the best outcome aside from dismissal.
A DUI Class C misdemeanor carries a fine of up to $500 and a mandatory license suspension.
A DWI Class B misdemeanor carries a fine of up to $2000 and a mandatory license suspension.
A DWI Class C misdemeanor carries a fine of up to $4000 and a mandatory license suspension.
A DUI Class C misdemeanor is not punishable by jail time but may lead to up to two years of probation.
A DWI Class B misdemeanor comes with a minimum of 72 hours and a maximum of six months in County Jail.
A DWI Class A misdemeanor comes with a jail sentence of 30 days to a maximum of one year in County jail.
It is important to note that any charges for driving while intoxicated may be enhanced- and possible jail time can increase. Under Texas law, a DUI or DWI charge may be upgraded in class or even enhanced to a manslaughter or assault charge if certain factors are applicable.
What Can Enhance the Charges?
There was an open alcoholic container in the car
The driver’s blood alcohol level is exceptionally high
Someone was injured or killed due to the driver’s actions
There was a child present in the car
The driver has previous criminal convictions for unrelated offenses
Even as a first-time offender, any of these factors can significantly enhance the penalties, including increased jail time.
First Time Offenders: What to Expect
In many cases, the first time a person is charged with a DWI, they will not face significant jail time. However, only a DUI charged to a minor under the age of 21 guarantees that no jail sentence be included in the penalties.
A first-time offender should expect to be penalized to the harshest level of the law- especially if any of the enhancing offenses are applicable. Although a first DWI is generally considered a Class B offense with reduced consequences, a prosecutor may push for above the minimum jail sentence.
What to Do If Facing a DUI Charge in Texas
Anyone facing a DUI charge in Texas should seek legal representation immediately. State laws take these kinds of offenses seriously, and prosecutors often seek the harshest penalties. Having someone to act on the side of a first-time offender is essential.
Contact Sparks Law Firm Today
Sparks Law Firm has the best DUI lawyers in Fort Worth and is a leading authority in criminal defense law in Texas. First-time DUI offenses may be classed as minor misdemeanors- in some cases- but staying out of jail is not a guarantee. Texas takes intoxicated driving very seriously due to the high statistics and number of incidents, so nobody should assume they can get off lightly just because it is their first time facing a charge.
To learn more about Texas DUI laws, such as which state has the toughest DUI laws or how long a DUI will affect your insurance in Texas, contact the Sparks Law Firm.
Contacting the legal experts in this field is the best way to ensure a top-level defense, so reach out to the team today for a consultation about a case.