Austin, TX

DWI Information for Texas

A Guide to DWI Information Texas: Penalties, Laws, and More

If you’re facing a DWI case in Texas, especially if it is for a first DWI offense, you may be scouring the internet for information. This blog has some of the answers you need, but it it not a substitute for speaking with a criminal defense attorney. That is because, while the law is the same across the state, customs and procedures can vary greatly across jurisdictions. Fortunately, many attorneys will speak to you about your case at no charge. ATX Legal offers free consultations for cases in Travis, Hays, and Williamson counties.

Rob Chesnutt of ATX Legal can help you fight your DWI in Texas.

Understanding DWI in Texas

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in Texas, carrying severe penalties that can impact your life significantly. From hefty fines to potential jail time, the consequences of a DWI conviction are far-reaching. It’s crucial to understand the legal implications and the steps you need to take if you find yourself facing a DWI charge. Texas DWI laws govern the penalties, procedures, and consequences of DWI offenses in the state.

Definition of DWI in Texas law

DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated and is the standard charge in Texas for being caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Intoxication while operating a motor vehicle is defined as not having normal mental or physical faculties due to substances in the body, which could include alcohol, controlled substances, or other drugs.

A DWI arrest initiates the legal process and can lead to various legal consequences, including administrative license revocation (ALR) hearings, court appearances, and potential impacts on driving privileges.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

In Texas, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08% for drivers 21 and older. For minors (under 21), the BAC limit is 0.00%, meaning any detectable amount of alcohol can result in a DWI charge. The state enforces these limits strictly to ensure public safety on the roads.

DWI Laws and Conviction in Texas

DWI Conviction: What to Expect

A DWI conviction in Texas can result in fines, jail time, and suspension of a driver’s license. Additional consequences include court costs, fees for driver education courses, and installation and maintenance fees for an ignition interlock device. The penalties are designed to be a deterrent and to ensure that offenders are held accountable. You MUST request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within the first 15 days following a DWI arrest to contest the administrative license suspension.

Driver’s License Implications

A DWI conviction can severely impact a person’s career, especially for those holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Individuals with a CDL may face more severe penalties than those with a regular driver’s license, including longer license suspension periods and stricter monitoring requirements. This can disqualify them from holding certain jobs, affecting their livelihood.

DWI Penalties in Texas

First Offense Texas DWI Penalties

The Criminal penalties for a first offense DWI conviction in Texas are typically a Class B misdemeanor with a maximum 6-month jail term and a $3,000 fine. Charges can be enhanced in certain circumstances, such as a BAC of 0.15 or higher, which can elevate the offense to a Class A misdemeanor. A first-time aggravated DWI with a child passenger is considered a state jail felony and is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a sentence of 180 days to 2 years in prison.

Penalties for Minors and Adults

Minors (under 21) are prohibited from driving a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. For a first offense, minors face penalties that can include jail time, fines, and mandatory alcohol education courses. These penalties are intended to prevent drunk driving among young people and ensure their safety on the road.

Enhanced Penalties for Serious Offenses

DWI with Injury or Death

DWI cases involving an accident that causes serious bodily injury or death can result in felony charges. Such cases may lead to charges of intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter, carrying severe penalties, including long-term imprisonment and substantial fines.

Refusing Blood Alcohol Content Testing

Refusing a blood or breath test when a law enforcement officer requests it can result in administrative penalties such as a license suspension of 90 days to two years under Texas’ implied consent laws. An experienced attorney can request an administrative hearing to dispute the license suspension and potentially mitigate the consequences. The Texas Department of Public Safety handles the administrative license suspension, and individuals can request an ALR hearing to contest the suspension.

Consequences of DWI in Texas

Mandatory Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device

In some cases, a judge will require an offender to install an ignition interlock device. This device prevents the vehicle from starting if it detects alcohol on the driver’s breath. It must be installed by an approved service provider, and the offender is responsible for the installation and maintenance costs.

Probation and Travel Restrictions

Probation for a DWI offense can impose lengthy supervisory terms and conditions, such as community service and ignition interlock device requirements. People on DWI probation are sometimes prohibited from traveling outside their county of residence in Texas, although they can petition the court for permission to travel.

Texas law imposes these travel restrictions, and compliance is crucial to avoid further legal complications.

Insurance and Financial Responsibility

SR-22 Insurance Requirements

People convicted of DWI in Texas are required to prove they have car insurance by filing an SR-22 certificate. This certificate must be kept on file with the state for two years after the conviction. The SR-22 ensures that the driver maintains a certain level of insurance coverage, which can be more expensive due to the DWI conviction.

The Importance of Hiring a DWI Attorney

Why You Need an Experienced DWI Attorney

If charged with a DWI in Texas, it’s essential to speak to an attorney right away. An experienced DWI attorney can help navigate the legal system, protect your rights, and develop a strong defense strategy. Do not speak to anyone about your case, including the police, before contacting an attorney.

Finding the Right Attorney for Your Case

Consult an experienced DWI attorney in Austin, Texas, to understand the penalties and consequences of a DWI charge. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide guidance on the best course of action and represent you in court to achieve the most favorable outcome.

DWI and Commercial Drivers

Commercial Driver’s License Suspension

Commercial drivers can be charged with a DWI if their BAC level is 0.04 or higher. A first offense DWI charge for CDL drivers is a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and three to 180 days in jail. Additionally, a DWI conviction can result in a CDL suspension, severely impacting the driver’s career.

DWI and Minors

Minors convicted of DWI face stringent penalties, including fines, jail time, and mandatory alcohol education courses. The state of Texas takes a zero-tolerance approach to underage drinking and driving, enforcing strict laws to deter such behavior and ensure the safety of all road users.

Contact Us to Discuss DWI Charges in or Around Travis County

If you or a loved one is facing DWI charges in Central Texas and needs legal representation, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. For a free consultation, simply fill out our contact form or text us at 512-677-5003. We’re committed to providing you with the support and guidance you need during this challenging time.

505 West 12th Street, Suite 200 Austin Texas 78701

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