Being charged with a DWI in Texas first offense can be 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 a couple of hours out on the town, and you’re somewhere between buzzed and drunk. You tell yourself your house is just a few blocks down the road and that you don’t want to deal with getting your car tomorrow, or that you didn’t have that much to drink, and you decide to drive home. Your journey, however, is short-lived. The police pull you over and in the blink of an eye, you’re facing your first DWI in Texas. What do you do?

Mark Thiessen is here to tell you. Mark is a winning trial lawyer, a perennial Super Lawyer, an ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer Scientist, and is the only lawyer in the world who is quadruple board certified in:

  1. Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  2. DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense as approved through the American Bar Association
  3. DUI Law by the DUI Defense Lawyers Association
  4. Board Certified Advocate in Criminal Trial Law by the NBTA Foundation

Mark is a DWI maverick in the courtroom, and he’s here to fill you in on what to expect after a DWI in Texas, and what you can do to protect your freedom. If you or a loved one has been arrested under suspicion of DWI, call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 for a consultation. 

What is a DWI in Texas?

DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. DWI is the standard charge in Texas for being caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol — as opposed to many other states in which DUI is the standard charge.*

If you are arrested for DWI it means that you were driving a motorized vehicle in a public place while either:

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.

*Continue reading: What is the difference between DUI and DWI in Texas?

What happens with my first DWI in Texas?

Your first DWI in Texas 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: standardized field sobriety tests are designed to be failed. Surprise, they tell you that you have failed your sobriety tests and place you under arrest for your first DWI in Texas.

Knowledge can go a long way in helping you defend your freedom. 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 bail for DWI in Texas?” “Am I going to go to jail?”

While the answers to these questions are not always simple, the more you know the better. For instance, not incriminating yourself by knowing your rights when pulled over can help your attorney build a strong case.

What happens in a first court date for DWI in Texas?

The first court date following a DWI arrest is crucial. During the initial appearance, you will be informed of the charges against you, and have the opportunity to enter a plea. Your DWI attorney will be able to advise you on how to plead, depending on the details of your case. 

Keep in mind that pleading guilty in the hope of getting a reduced sentence will keep your case from being dismissed and keep you from being acquitted, so make sure that you and your attorney have discussed things extensively before you plead. 

Additionally, you’ve got the ALR hearing to think about. During your ALR hearing, your attorney will attempt to contest the suspension of your driver’s license. You must request this hearing within 15 days of your arrest, or you will not be eligible to save your license at all. 

Charges for a DWI in Texas first offense

One of the most common questions we get about DWIs in Texas is, “Is a DWI a felony?” and the answer is: sometimes. 

Fortunately, first-offense DWI charges are usually filed as class B misdemeanors in Texas, however, there are a few ways in which your first DWI offense can be aggravated and upgraded to a class A misdemeanor or felony. 

  1. Your blood alcohol content was over 0.15%. If your BAC is twice the legal limit or more, you will receive a steeper charge. 

  2. You were pulled over with a child passenger in the car. A passenger for DWI with a child passenger is anyone under the age of 15. 

  3. Your DWI resulted in the injury of another party. Also known as intoxication assault, injury of another party is an incredibly serious DWI charge.

  4. Your DWI resulted in the death of another party. Also known as intoxication manslaughter, the death of another person will incur the most serious DWI charge (and penalties) possible. 

It’s important to note that even a DWI first offense in Texas can easily escalate at the hands of over-eager prosecutors, and can include serious criminal and administrative penalties even without the presence of aggravating factors. This complexity often challenges less-experienced or lower-priced attorneys, resulting in both permanent and negative consequences for their clients.

Penalties for a DWI in Texas first offense

DWI penalties, even for a first offense, will vary greatly depending on the circumstances of your arrest. With no aggravating factors present, you will likely be looking at the following criminal penalties:

  • A fine of up to $2,000

  • Between 3 days and 180 days of jail time

  • License suspension for up to 2 years

  • DWI intervention or education program

  • Possible ignition interlock device

However, if any aggravating factors are present, you can expect steeper penalties. A full breakdown of possible DWI penalties is as follows. 

Offense

Charge

Fine

Jail Time

First-offense DWI

Class B misdemeanor

Up to $2,000

3 – 180 days

Second-offense DWI

Class A misdemeanor

Up to $4,000

30 days – 2 years

Subsequent DWI charges

Felony charge

Up to $10,000

2 – 10 years

First-time DWI w/ BAC 0.15% or higher

Class A misdemeanor

Up to $4,000

Up to 1 year

First-time aggravated DWI w/ child passenger

State jail felony

Up to $10,000

180 days – 2 years

Aggravated DWI with prior conviction(s)

Third-degree felony

Up to $10,000

2 – 10 years

Intoxication Assault

Third-degree felony

Up to $10,000

2 – 10 years

Intoxication Manslaughter

Second-degree felony

Up to $10,000

2 – 20 years

Whether it’s a DWI in Texas first offense or intoxication manslaughter, the Texas judicial system works hard to ensnare anyone close to a DWI. 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.

DWI first offense in Texas probation chances

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 for a period that can last for up to two years for first-time DWI offenses.

Can you seal a DWI in Texas? Fortunately, thanks to some newer Texas DWI laws, sealing a DWI is possible under certain conditions. Talk to your attorney to see whether this is an option for you.

Can I get a first DWI in Texas dismissed?

You can get a first DWI in Texas dismissed — with the right attorney. Some of the common ways that DWI cases in Texas are dismissed include: 

  1. Your attorney proves that the law enforcement made an illegal stop or conducted an illegal search. 

  2. Your attorney contests evidence from blood and breath tests, and proves that mistakes were made in the process. 

  3. Your attorney finds errors in the police work or finds that their story doesn’t completely add up. 

  4. Your attorney argues that there is insufficient evidence to make a conviction — remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. 

Remember that your chances of dismissal of DWI in Texas are greatly improved if you hire an attorney who knows how to fight for your rights in a court of law and expose any mistakes made by law enforcement or the prosecution. If you want to win your DWI case, you need a trial lawyer. What is a trial lawyer?

Trial lawyers are attorneys who aren’t afraid to take your case to a judge or jury and fight. They don’t content themselves with litigating or negotiating outside of court, and would rather protect their client’s rights on the courtroom floor. Trial lawyers have a specific skill set that lends itself to taking complex cases and winning them. 

Arrested under suspicion of a DWI in Texas first offense? Thiessen Law Firm can help. 

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 in Texas. We already have hundreds of DWI victories and are winning more for our clients every day. If you’ve found yourself facing a DWI in Texas first offense, call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. 

More Helpful Articles by Thiessen Law Firm: 

Testimonial for a DWI in Texas First Offense

Don’t take our word for it, we fight for our clients’ freedom every day. Hear from Lisa about how we helped her win a dismissal of her DWI charge.

“My case is now dismissed and I can finally put this all behind me: I am a professional business leader part of a Fortune 1,000 company. A year and a half ago my mother has just diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. At 8 pm on a Thursday night my stepdad called and told me that she had been rushed to the medical center. I made a terrible decision!! To get in my car to be there for my mother. I was pulled over and charged with Driving while intoxication..” – Lisa. Continue reading the full testimonial.

Mark Thiessen

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.