Texas DWI Laws: What are the penalties for DWI?
As a general rule of thumb, the penalties for DWI are:
a) First offense: fine not to exceed $2,000.00 and/or the possibility of serving jail time-anywhere from 3 to 180 days, and a driver’s license suspension of 90 to 365 days. (Class B Misdemeanor). First-time DWI offenders now have some relief thanks to Texas’ new “second chance” bill.
b) Second offense: maximum fine increases from $2,000 to no more than $4,000.00 and/or jail from 30 days to one year, and a possible driver’s license suspension ranging from 180 days to 2 years. (Class A Misdemeanor).
c) Third offense: Fines increase up to $10,000.00 and/or 2 to 10 years of imprisonment, and suspension of your driver’s license ranging from 180 days up to 2 years. (3rd Degree Felony).
DWI with an open alcohol container
First offense in addition to the penalty referenced above you face a minimum 6 days in jail and a fine of no more than $2,000.00.(Class B Misdemeanor).
DWI with an accident where serious bodily injury occurred as a proximate cause of the intoxication
Upon conviction you may serve a minimum of 2 years up to a maximum of 10 years in jail. You may also be fined up to $10,000.00.( 3rd Degree Felony). DWI where a death has occurred as a proximate cause of the intoxication Also known as intoxication manslaughter. This is serious! Upon conviction you might have to pay a maximum fine of $10,000.00 and/or be imprisoned from 2 to 20 years (Intoxicated Manslaughter or Manslaughter with use of Deadly Weapon are both 2nd Degree Felonies).
DWI with a child passenger
A person commits a state jail felony if they drive while intoxicated with any persons in the vehicle under 15 years of age. Punishment for a non-enhanced state jail felony is by confinement in a state jail for any term of not more than 2 years or less than 180 days and a fine not to exceed $10,000.00. In some of the above minor classifications you may be eligible for probation, but there is no guarantee that you will receive a probated jail sentence or fine.
What is the Process for Defending a D.W.I.?
This defense is a lengthy multi-step process. Let me break it down for you so you can better understand how this will work.
Lets begin with probable cause. Each step in the process causes the case to turn for better or worse. So lets break down this process addressing each major turning point.
1. Probable Cause for a stop.
For a police officer to stop you, there must be some probable cause for the stop. Usually, it is a standard traffic violation that causes the stop.Furthermore, if police believe that a crime has been committed or is in the process of being committed, they have the right to detain you further in order to complete their investigation.
- You do not have to do the field sobriety tests!
- You do not have to talk with police officers.
- You do have to get out of your car if asked!
If the police officer believes that he or she has enough evidence to make a DWI charge, then the officer will arrest and transport you to either their station house or the county jail for further tests. It is here where they conduct further testing and the breathalyzer.
You do NOT have to take the breathalyzer!!
You do not have constitutional right, but you do have a statutory right to refuse. Refusal, will deny the prosecution and the state vital evidence to their case. A very good idea. If you refuse, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended and the officers will confiscate the license. However, they will give you a temporary license, a paper license, that is good for 45 days.
4. Driver’s License Suspension
Since you, hopefully, refused the breathalyzer, your drivers license will be suspended. You must petition the court to grant you an “Occupational License” which will allow you to drive during the suspension period. This requires the filing of a Petition for Occupational License, hearing on Occupational License, and Order Granting Occupational License. Further, an occupational license fee of $25.00 must be paid to the Texas Department of Transportation. At the end of your suspension period, the department will return to you your license upon payment of the reinstatement fee of $125.00.
5. Administrative License Revocation Hearing
Because you refused to “blow,” you have a right to request an Administrative License Revocation Hearing which must be done within 15 days of your arrest. I advise that you request the ALR hearing. Since an A.L.R. hearing is civil case, we have the power to subpoena the police officer to the hearing. This is an opportunity for you to question the police officer as to the reasons he made the stop, and to test his knowledge with regards to field sobriety testing. Further, the District Attorney is not present and is not available to “prep the witness.” Requesting an A.L.R. hearing increases the cost of your D.W.I. defense but it is a good idea.
Administrative License Revocation, copy the breathalyzer room tape, examination of the scene of arrest, interviewing your witnesses, reviewing the police report, etc. are all part of a complete investigation of your Driving While Intoxicated Defenses. If you have a good defense, then we recommend a jury trial. Investigation is part of getting prepared.
If you have an outstanding tape, it is possible, not guaranteed to get a recommendation from the County/District Attorney that your D.W.I. charge be reduced to an obstruction of a highway charge, or reckless driving. This charge is still a Class B misdemeanor, but you can get deferred adjudication which means that, after a period of probation, the obstruction of a highway charge will be dismissed but your record will only show Deferred Adjudication or no finding of guilt. If the D.A. will not recommend a plea reduction, you can still plea to the DWI. In Travis County, the standard plea is (1) no deferred adjudication, (2) 6 months in jail probated for 2 years, (3) fine, (4) court costs, and other court imposed probationary requirements including payment to crime stoppers, drug and alcohol awareness, and community service among other items.
If you would like to try the cause, we will likely exercise your constitional right to a jury trial. The jury will either render a not guilty verdict or guilty if the government proves their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If found guilty, punishment is usually assessed in the same manner as a straight up plea. If you are found not guilty, you are entitled to have your criminal records expunged. All documents relating to your arrest will be destroyed.
9. Expungement of Criminal Records
If not guilty, please have the records expunged! Remove the alcohol related contact from your driving record. Further, you do not want any subsequent D.W.I charge or other criminal matter to reflect this charge.
10. Attorney’s Fees and Costs
Payment plans are available! I understand to hire an attorney for your DWI defense can get expensive. Although it is your right to defend yourself in the court of law it does not come recommended! Cost, aside think about your future and hire an attorney. I care and that is why I am willing to work with you.
That is why we take payment plans, and credit cards.