Texas law is strict when it comes to punishment for drunk driving. While first-time offenders may be eligible for a reduced sentence, the majority of those arrested for drunken driving face felony charges. Additionally, as with many legal inquiries, the answer to whether a DWI in Texas constitutes a criminal offense is: it depends.
Prior DUI convictions can have a significant impact on whether someone is charged with a felony or misdemeanor. In fact, two people arrested in identical circumstances could have wildly different outcomes. That is why it is critical to hire experienced DUI attorneys in Fort Worth. Contact Sparks Law Firm today for a free consultation regarding DWI convictions.
What Is a DUI in Fort Worth, Texas?
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a misdemeanor of the class "C" variety. This implies that one is not going to be sentenced to prison and is only fined a maximum of $500. (for a first offense, for subsequent offenses one may get significant jail time). Hours of community service for DUI, probation, and alcohol awareness education may be imposed in addition to the fine. In the vast majority of these instances, the Texas Department of Public Safety issues a notice of suspension and attempts to suspend the person's driver's license if they are a minor. The administrative license revocation (ALR) process is used in adult instances to suspend a driver's license.
To summarize, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol or take drugs and then drive a vehicle. During a traffic stop, if a police officer confirms that they smelt an alcoholic beverage on a minor's breath, the juvenile is charged with DUI. This is applicable even if the officer believes the minor is under the legal drinking limit of 0.08 and has not lost normal mental function but has ingested "any or some" alcohol. If a minor's case is handled incorrectly, it can have devastating long-term consequences for the child's criminal record and result in a lengthy driver's license suspension. As a result, it is critical that these cases be addressed seriously.
What Is a DWI in Fort Worth, Texas?
A DWI arrest is considered a criminal offense in Texas. Texas Penal Code Section 49.04 makes driving while intoxicated illegal. It might be a misdemeanor or a felony, based on the circumstances. It is prohibited for an inebriated individual to operate a motor vehicle in a public location, as per the law.
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and other alcohol and drug-related traffic crimes are regularly prosecuted criminal charges that entail administrative penalties. An individual is considered inebriated by law if the alcohol concentration in their breath, blood, or urine is 0.08 percent or above. In some cases, even if a person's blood alcohol concentration is less than 0.08 percent, the legal definition of intoxication is reached. Intoxication is defined as the presence of alcohol, a drug, or a controlled substance in someone's body that results in a loss of normal mental or physical faculties.
The individual is considered to be driving while intoxicated if they are operating a car, vessel, or even a water ski in a public location. These are Class B misdemeanors. It is also illegal to operate a boat or an airplane while drunk.
If the person was drunk driving, the minimum jail term is 72 hours. Furthermore, if the person has an open bottle of alcohol in their possession, the minimum jail time is at least six days. It is also illegal to consume any amount of alcohol while operating a vehicle.
An individual who is convicted of DWI for the first time faces jail time as well as a suspension of their driver's license for 90 days to one year. Even though there is no conviction, a positive breath, blood, or urine test results in the person's driver's license being suspended automatically. The individual may also be forced to complete an alcohol treatment program for those who have driven while inebriated. If a person is sentenced to such a program and fails to finish it, their license may be revoked. A second DWI conviction results in another 18-month driver's license suspension. The individual must pay $100 to have their license returned after the suspension time has ended.
In Texas, refusing to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test can result in serious consequences. If a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe an individual is driving while intoxicated and the driver refuses to take a breath test, the person's driver's license is automatically suspended for a minimum of 90 days if they are 21 or older, and for at least one year if the individual is under 21. Each subsequent test that confirms an alcohol content, as well as each time a person fails to submit to alcohol testing, lengthens the period of license suspension.
If a driver refuses to be tested for intoxication and has had prior convictions or license suspensions within the previous five years, the individual's license is suspended for one year automatically. The person is, nevertheless, entitled to a hearing in any scenario.
For those driving commercial vehicles, here's how to get your CDL back after a DUI.
First Offense DWI Classification
Unless one satisfies requirements that can upgrade the charge to a higher misdemeanor or even a felony conviction, people are most likely charged with a Class B misdemeanor with a minimum sentence of detention of 72 hours when it comes to a first offense.
Having a high blood alcohol content (BAC) might potentially lead to further charges being filed against the person. If their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.15 or above when they were arrested for a first-time DWI, the case is escalated to a Class A misdemeanor. If one has a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and a prior conviction, the penalties could be considerably more severe.
Moreover, a second DWI in Texas is not considered a felony, whereas a third DWI is a state jail felony whereby the person faces a state prison sentence between two and 10 years.
Contact Sparks Law Firm Today for DUI Offenses!
It is critical to act swiftly if you have been charged with a DWI. The sooner Sparks Law Firm has the opportunity to analyze police reports and research the facts of the case, the more likely we can preserve beneficial evidence in your defense. Contact our experienced lawyers immediately for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case. We value our attorney-client relationship and fight for your rights when facing a DUI conviction.