Austin, TX

Austin FIRST TIME DWI Lawyer

Experienced First Time DWI Lawyer – Austin Texas

For first time DWI offenders in Austin, it is often their first experience with DWI laws and the criminal justice system. Finding a criminal defense attorney with experience handling Austin DWI cases should your first priority, but you may be seeking some information first to get your bearings. This page is not intended as legal advice, but if you would like to speak with an Austin DWI attorney for your specific situation, ATX Legal offers a free consultation. If you choose us for your DWI defense, we will fight to keep your criminal record clean and limit penalties.

What Constitutes Driving While Intoxicated in Texas?

In Texas, A DWI can be charged when a person drives a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. Pretty simple right? Intoxication can be due to alcohol, drugs, or even prescription medication. While a Blood Alcohol Concentration over .08 is enough to be considered intoxication, it is not a necessary fact for law enforcement to charge a DWI. For example, under Texas DWI law, if the police officer suspects the driver is high on a controlled substance, they can still charge the driver with a fist time DWI.


I Got a DWI First offense in Travis County, Is My Life Over?

Absolutely not! While a DWI is never fun or enjoyable, it is not the end of the world. More like a speed bump. The DWI arrest and the night spent in jail is often the worst part. A good criminal defense attorney will be able to limit criminal penalties, if not get the DWI dismissed. Under Texas law, a first time DWI is a class B misdemeanor (Texas Penal Code 49.04), so more significant than a speeding ticket, but still a relatively minor infraction in the grand scheme of the Texas Penal Code.

Keep in mind, certain enhancements can increase the penalty to a Class A misdemeanor or in some circumstances, like causing serious bodily injury, even a third degree felony, but those are not discussed here. If charged with a felony, you should be reaching out to experienced Austin DWI attorneys today because you are facing serious penalties.

How can I beat a DWI in Austin, Tx?

Every DWI offense is different, but there are a number of ways to get a a DWI dismissed. If the police officer did not have probable cause for the arrest, an experienced DWI attorney may be able to challenge the stop, leading to suppression of all evidence, including BAC tests over the legal limit, field sobriety tests, statements to police officers, or any other evidence of driving while intoxicated.

Another way to beat a DWI is with a jury trial. DWI lawyers don’t take very many cases to trial, but sometimes it is necessary when the prosecutor refuses to make a reasonable plea offer. Trials always involve the risk of conviction, so the decision to go to trial is always in the hands of the person accused of driving while intoxicated.

A final way to get a dismissal is with DWI Court. An Austin DWI lawyer will always consider this option if available. It will be discussed in more detail below.

Probable Cause to Make an Arrest for DWI

Police officers need to have probable cause to make a stop and also to begin a DWI investigation. Probable cause is a legal standard lower than “beyond reasonable doubt”, but there still must be real evidence of a traffic infraction or some other crime before the police officer can make a DWI stop.

The stop can be “pretextual”, meaning that the officer can stop a person he suspects of drunk driving even if the violation he notices is something relatively innocuous like speeding 5mph over the limit. Once the stop is made, probable cause for DWI charges can be had if the officer smells alcohol or notices other signs of intoxication.

1st Conviction with BAC .15 or Greater

A blood alcohol concentration over .15 takes DWI charges from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A. Not only are the potential punishments higher, but the Travis County Attorney’s Office will take these criminal charges more seriously. While Probation is often still the likely outcome, other options like DWI court or a dismissal that would allow you to expunge the DWI charge from your criminal record might not be possible.

How Can I Keep My Texas Driver’s License?

If you refuse or fail a blood alcohol concentration test – either a breathalyzer or a blood draw – your license will be automatically suspended if you don’t request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing. You only have 15 days to request it, and if you don’t the license suspension will automatically begin 40 days after the DWI arrest.

Your criminal defense attorney can represent you at the Administrative License Revocation hearing to potentially save your license, but keep in mind the success rate is quite low. In my experience less than 20% of those accused of drunk driving are able to save their driver’s license.

What happens after a DWI arrest?

Once a an Austin police officer determines there is probable cause for a DWI charge, they will typically offer a Blood Alcohol Concentration test like a breathalyzer. After that, the accused drunk driver will be put in handcuffs and taken to the Travis County Jail. Typically jail time will be limited to one night, but in some cases can extend to two full days. Experienced Austin DWI attorneys will be able to waive magistration to save many hours of jail time.

Following magistration, or if waived by a criminal defense attorney, a first time DWI offense usually qualifies for a PR bond, which is basically free except for a $20-$40 charge. On your PR bond, you are given a court date for your DWI case. You are released from the jail with any items that were previously confiscated, and will be given a chance to make a phone call to arrange transportation. If impounded, your vehicle is often located at Southside Towing.

How Long Does a DWI Case Take in Austin, TX?

The short answer here is that a first time DWI charge can take between 4 months and two years to resolve. Although experienced Austin DWI attorney can sometimes move the process along more quickly, the timing is ultimately up to the Travis County Attorney’s Office. Speak with your criminal defense attorney because it can sometimes be a good strategy not to rush.

Everyone wants to resolve their DWI charge as quickly as possible, but your legal counsel already knows this. Sometimes, more important factors like avoiding a DWI conviction will take precedence.

First DWI Conviction

There are a number of ways to avoid a conviction on a first time DWI charge. However, in some circumstances it is unavoidable. For example, if the driver was well over the legal limit and there is ample evidence of drunk driving that cannot be excluded, the prosecutor’s case is very strong. In this situation, it may make sense to plea to a misdemeanor DWI. In most cases, DWI convictions stay on your record forever – they cannot be expunged. More on that below.

How Likely is Jail Time for a DWI 1st in Austin?

In Travis County, DWI probation is far more likely than jail time for first time DWI convictions. Most Austin DWI attorneys will be able to avoid even a day in jail, though there are some rare exceptions. However, jail time for a later subsequent DWI conviction would become more likely.

Jail is unlikely for first time DWI arrests, but don't leave the result to chance. Seek out an experienced Austin DWI attorney.

Can You Get Probation for a First DWI in Austin?

Yes, probation is a highly likely outcome for a first time DWI conviction. Additionally, probation will likely be required for many convictions reduced from DWI charges, like Obstructing a Roadway. In Travis County, DWI Court (discussed below) is NOT probation, but it feels very much the same. Travis County probation is not terrible onerous, however. Most check-ins can occur by phone. Fees are about $65 per month.

What are Penalties for a DWI Conviction in Austin?

Common penalties for a first time DWI conviction include classes with Travis County Counseling and Education – (between 12 and 36 hours that can often be taken remotely), the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel (2-3 hours), an ignition interlock device, community service hours, and probation fees. A qualified Austin DWI lawyer will be able to minimize the penalties in many cases.

CAN First Offense DWI Charge be Reduced in Austin Tx?

An Austin DWI lawyer will often be able to get a DWI charge reduced to a class C misdemeanor or a class B obstructing a roadway. Despite still appearing on your criminal record, it is still better than a DWI conviction. This can represent a good middle ground for the prosecutor and DWI lawyer. Austin DWI attorneys are used to working with Travis County prosecutors to negotiate good outcomes for clients.

DWI Court in Travis County

In Travis County, DWI court can be a great option for a first time DWI offense. While it feels like probation, it is actually a diversion program that allows you to dismiss the DWI charge and have the DWI arrest expunged from your record. An ignition interlock device is required and the program lasts a year, but can be terminated by 6 months if you meet all the requirements.

How Much Will a DWI Cost in Texas?

DWI arrests are expensive –there’s no way around it. Austin DWI attorneys will typically charge $4,000 and up. There are court costs, motor vehicle impound costs, license suspension costs, IID fees, and some other miscellaneous charges. They do add up. In fact, for many, the financial impact is the worst part of DWI charges.

Criminal defense cases are expensive, but an Austin DWI attorney can make a big difference in the consequences you face.

Can I Get a DWI Off My Record?

Texas DWI law allows for expunctions when the DWI charge is dismissed. In some cases, even convictions can be sealed with an order of nondisclosure. It is always best to discuss the consequences for your criminal history with your criminal defense attorney before agreeing to a DWI conviction.

How Long Does a DWI stay on your Record in Texas?

The short answer is that a DWI conviction in Texas will stay on your record forever. Unless the law changes or you get a pardon from the Governor, that conviction will remain on your criminal history. This is why it is especially important to speak with experienced Austin DWI attorneys early in the process. Prior DWI convictions will have an affect in a wide variety of circumstances. The best way to protect your record is to avoid a DWI conviction completely when possible. For this, a strong DWI defense is required.

What is the Difference between DWI and DUI in Texas?

There is no such thing as DUI charge for adults in Texas, but a juvenile charge can appear this way. Criminal defense attorneys will sometimes refer to a DWI charge as a DUI interchangeably, because in other states, DWI charges are called DUIs. An Austin DWI lawyer will refer to it as a DWI, but some lawyers will call it a DUI. It’s essentially just a semantic difference.

Austin DWI Lawyer

If you are researching Austin DWI lawyers for quality legal representation, please fill out a contact form for a free consultation. You can speak with an experienced Austin DWI lawyer for up to thirty minutes regarding your criminal and DWI defense.

Fill out a contact form for a free consultation with a local Austin DWI lawyer.

Additional Resources

You don’t need a DWI lawyer to request your Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing. Click this link to request it, but make sure to do so within 15 days of your arrest.

Loved one in jail in Travis County on a DWI charge? Find out where he or she is being held and bond information by clicking here.

Upcoming court date for a DWI charge in Travis County? Click here for up-to-date information.

Questions? We Can Help

Questions? We Can Help

ATX Legal is available 24/7. Contact us now for help regarding your case.
DWI Defense
505 West 12th Street, Suite 200 Austin Texas 78701

Request A Free Case Evaluation