A DWI in Texas, First Offense: What You Need to Know
Experiencing a first DWI offense in Texas is downright scary. Yet, it all too often starts out like any other night. Your coworker invites you out for a drink after work. One drink turns into two drinks and two drinks quickly turn into five.
Before you know it, Happy Hour has turned into many hours out on the town, and you’ve become drunk. You tell yourself your house is just a few blocks down the road, or a quick ten-minute drive and you decide to drive yourself home. Luckily and unluckily, your journey is short-lived and you are pulled over. In the blink of an eye, you’re facing your first DWI in Texas. What do you do?
We’ll share what to expect from a DWI in Texas first offense, and what you must do to protect your freedom.
Being Pulled over for Your First DWI in Texas
A DWI in Texas first offense may start with a false sense of security. While the traffic stop may seem routine to you, police are always looking for the slightest hints of trouble.
After asking for your driver’s license, the officer tells you that he can smell alcohol on you and requests that you perform a number of sobriety tests. Spoiler alert: field sobriety tests are designed for you to fail. Surprise, he tells you that you have failed your sobriety tests and places you under arrest for your first DWI in Texas.
It’s helpful for you to understand how the state views a DWI in Texas first offense. We guarantee that, as you sit on the side road, your head will begin spinning with countless questions: “What is the penalty for a first offense DWI in Texas?” or “How much is the bail for DWI in Texas?” Though many of the answers depend on your specific case, a little knowledge can go a long way to defending your freedom.
What is DWI in Texas?
DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated,” and you will face a DWI in Texas first offense when you are caught driving with over the legal limit of alcohol in your blood. As with every other state, the legal alcohol limit in Texas for your blood is 0.08 percent. For many people, 0.08 percent is easily reached after drinking just one or two drinks, so getting a DWI can be easier than most people assume.
DWI Charges in Texas for a First Offense
Here’s one of the most common questions we hear about a first DWI in Texas, “Is the first DWI a felony in Texas?” Fortunately, first-offense DWI charges are usually filed as Class B Misdemeanors. As long as your blood alcohol content (BAC) registers in under 0.15 (nearly twice the legal limit), your penalty will most likely include a suspended license for 90 to 365 days, a fine up to $2,000, and possibly a few days of jail time depending on your particular situation.
However, it’s important to note that even a DWI first offense in Texas can easily escalate at the hands of over-eager prosecutors, including both criminal and administrative penalties. This complexity often challenges less-experienced or lower-priced attorneys, resulting in both permanent and negative consequences for their clients.
Enhanced DWI Charges
Even if this is your first DWI in Texas, other factors could also lead to enhanced charges. Examples of these situations include if you have a particularly high BAC (usually 0.15 and above), if you were driving with minors in the car when you were pulled over, if you already had a suspended or revoked driver’s license and/or if there was excessive speed involved in your case.
Criminal Penalties for a DWI in Texas First Offense
According to the Texas DMV website, the criminal penalties for a DWI in Texas first offense include:
- A fine up to a $2,000
- Between 3 days and 180 days of jail time
- License suspension for up to 2 years
- Annual surcharge up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your license
- DWI intervention or education program
- Possible ignition interlock device
Administrative Penalties for a DWI in Texas First Offense
Many citizens fighting their first DWI in Texas do not realize they’re fighting two battles. In addition to criminal penalties, there are also a number of administrative penalties (formally called Administrative License Revocation Penalties) that could add up and further suspend your license if you do not hire a strong defense attorney. These penalties result if the driver either refuses to take a chemical test or fails a chemical test. Bear in mind that administrative penalties are in addition to whatever criminal penalties the driver is receiving.
Sentencing a DWI in Texas First Offense
Sentencing a first DWI in Texas depends heavily on your individual situation. Judges will grant some individuals mostly community service, while others will add jail time, especially if the DWI resulted in the death of an individual. Additionally, your license will most likely be suspended for some time and you will be required to pay the Texas Department of Transportation $1,000 for three years.
If this is your 2nd DWI in Texas, the court will probably also require you to install an ignition interlock device that breathalyzers you before starting the car, but first-time offenders almost never have to worry about that. What’s important to keep in mind is everyone’s sentencing is dependent on their particular situation and that we at Thiessen Law Firm are able to reduce your sentencing down to a minimum by providing expert legal advice to our clients.
Probation for a DWI in Texas First Offense
Sometimes, depending on the situation, a judge will sentence the driver to DWI probation in Texas in place of jail time. Those on probation must follow strict rules set by the judge and can last for up to two hours for first-time DWI offenses.
Fortunately, recent updates like some new Texas DWI laws from 2017 are leading to better outcomes for citizens and better answers to questions like, “Can you seal a DWI in Texas?”
Fighting & Expunging a DWI in Texas First Offense
Fighting your first DWI in Texas is almost always a scary experience. Especially since many first-time offenders have never been in trouble with the law before, they don’t know where to turn for legal advice throughout the process. Our team is passionate about helping you understand the process in its entirety and helping you understand your rights as a citizen.
We know how to beat a DWI and how to navigate new options such as the pretrial diversion for a Harris County DWI. If you’ve run into trouble regarding a DWI and you need a Houston DWI attorney, please contact us for advice. We’d love to help you.